- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Washington Redskins cornerback Champ Bailey visited Denver yesterday to evaluate the Broncos’ organization as the clubs seek to complete a blockbuster trade.

Bailey, tendered as the Redskins’ franchise player, could come to terms on a long-term deal with the Broncos in coming days. NFL sources say Bailey is seeking a six-year pact in the $50million range and that Denver is prepared to meet his demands.

The larger issue seems to be Bailey’s impression of the Broncos. Like quarterback Mark Brunell, whom Washington has agreed to acquire in a separate trade, Bailey essentially has the final say on his destination because of his weighty salary cap figure. A club wouldn’t want to complete a trade unless Bailey were willing to sign long-term.

Conversely, any long-term deal worked out between the Redskins and running back Clinton Portis, Denver’s proposed compensation for Bailey and a second-round pick, would have no bearing on whether a deal gets done.

Although the Redskins are believed to be negotiating with Portis, the young rusher remains under contract for two years at cheap rates and has only the threat of a training camp holdout to sway his situation.

Meanwhile, Washington has exchanged contract proposals with fullback Bryan Johnson and is seeking a multi-year contract agreement. The Redskins would prefer not to tender Johnson, a restricted free agent, because he was undrafted in 2000, and there would be no compensation if he were signed away.

Washington’s other restricted free agents are wide receiver Darnerien McCants, linebacker Antonio Pierce and safety Ifeanyi Ohalete. Only McCants seems likely to get the mid-level tender offer, which commands first-round compensation in return for a one-year salary of $1.368million. The low tender offer pays $628,000 and has compensation at the player’s original draft round.

Meanwhile, vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato has signed a three-year contract extension as expected. The deal’s greatest significance is that it shoots down speculation that the hiring of coach Joe Gibbs would lead to Cerrato’s quick departure.

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