- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 1, 2004

The Washington Redskins are expected to release running back Trung Canidate and guard Dave Fiore along with linebacker Jeremiah Trotter once the NFL enters its post-June 1 period this afternoon.

NFL sources said the Redskins are strongly considering cutting Canidate, who led the team with 600 rushing yards last season, and Fiore, who started three games at left guard before missing the rest of the season with a knee injury. If Washington releases all three players — Trotter’s departure has been well known for months — the club will recoup a combined $4.715 million of salary cap space this year.

The cuts could come as soon as 4 p.m. today, when teams around the league release veteran players because their cap impact is lessened. Players don’t have to be released immediately and can be let go any time after today.

Players cut before June 1 count far more against the cap than those cut after because their remaining signing bonus money can be spread out over two seasons instead of one.

None of the Redskins’ three expected moves comes as a complete surprise.

Trotter was told not to attend offseason workouts and to seek a trade earlier this spring. Fiore has been slow to recover from last fall’s knee surgery, and Canidate’s days have been numbered since Washington acquired star tailback Clinton Portis in March.

The timing of Canidate’s release, however, is a little unexpected. The 27-year-old is already in the final year of his contract, so a post-June 1 cut has no real cap ramifications. That fact led some to believe Washington would at least give Canidate, who has a $915,000 base salary this season, a chance to compete for a backup role in training camp.

But club sources said Redskins coach Joe Gibbs prefers third-year back Ladell Betts over Canidate as Portis’ primary understudy and the coach wants to give Canidate ample time to sign with another club.

Canidate’s brief tenure in Washington likely is over after one mostly forgettable season. Acquired from the St. Louis Rams for guard David Loverne and a fourth-round pick, the speedy tailback was touted as a perfect weapon for ex-coach Steve Spurrier’s Fun ‘n’ Gun offense. It was believed he would make fans forget about star Stephen Davis, whom the Redskins released in 2003.

Canidate, a former first-round draft pick, never lived up to expectations. He appeared in just 11 games, scored one rushing touchdown and was frequently sidelined by a high ankle sprain. He still has not recovered fully from that injury and did not participate in full-squad drills at either of Washington’s first two spring minicamps.

Fiore, 29, was another disappointing acquisition from a year ago. Signed away from San Francisco to a four-year, $6.33 million contract, he started the first three games of the season at left guard but soon began to feel pain in his surgically repaired right knee. Despite his best attempts to return to the field, Fiore never made it back and wound up losing his job to rookie Derrick Dockery.

Fiore spent the offseason rehabbing and hopes to be ready by training camp, but the recovery process has inched along. Last month offensive line coach Joe Bugel questioned whether the workhorse guard ever would make it back.

Fiore’s post-June 1 release would save the Redskins $1.1 million against the cap, with only a prorated signing bonus charge of $375,000 on the books for 2004.

Trotter’s release carries the largest cap savings — $2.7 million — of the three. Had the Redskins released the 27-year-old linebacker before June 1, the cap charge would have been almost $2 million more than it would be with Trotter on the roster.

Trotter leaves Washington just two years into the seven-year, $35.5 million contract he signed in 2002. The veteran linebacker also didn’t live up to the size of his hefty free agent deal.

Trotter recorded 233 tackles in his two seasons with the Redskins, also notching 1 sacks and two interceptions. He blew out his right knee in a Thanksgiving Day 2002 game at Dallas. Though he returned to start 16 games, he was never the same player.

Gibbs and his staff decided to overhaul Washington’s linebacker corps. Fellow veteran Jessie Armstead was cut, and Marcus Washington and Mike Barrow were signed as free agents to replace Armstead and Trotter, respectively.

Trotter should receive the most interest of the three soon-to-be free agents, joining a thin group of fellow June 1 casualties. Among the biggest names expected to be cut beginning today are Rams quarterback Kurt Warner, Steelers linebacker Jason Gildon, Packers defensive end Joe Johnson and possibly Titans running back Eddie George.

The Redskins would appear to have cap space to sign a player or two, but they are not expected to pursue the available veterans.

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