- The Washington Times - Friday, March 12, 2004

The St. Louis Rams yesterday thwarted the Washington Redskins’ latest attempt to sign a restricted free agent, matching the Redskins’ six-year, $15million offer sheet for cornerback Jerametrius Butler.

A fifth-round pick would have been shipped to St. Louis as compensation if the Rams had not matched. Instead, Washington retains two picks in the April24-25 draft, the fifth selection overall and its fifth-round selection.

St. Louis had until today to match the offer sheet but made the move a day early.

Last year the Redskins transformed the NFL landscape for restricted free agents by signing four, including standout New York Jets wide receiver Laveranues Coles. This year an offer sheet that included a $4million signing bonus and a $2million roster bonus in 2006 was not enough to dissuade St. Louis.

Washington also could face offer sheets in the coming week for its own restricted free agents, particularly wide receiver Darnerien McCants and fullback Bryan Johnson. The Redskins have emphasized they intend to match any offer. McCants would bring fifth-round compensation, while Johnson requires no compensation.

Otherwise, the Redskins were waiting to see whether linebacker Greg Favors (Carolina Panthers) would accept an offer. Completing a visit to Washington was linebacker Brandon Short (New York Giants). Linebacker Warrick Holdman (Chicago Bears) is scheduled to visit Monday, and the Redskins are interested in linebacker Michael Barrow (Giants) if his price falls.

It appears unlikely Washington will sign all the linebackers. Chances are, once one accepts an offer, other proposals would be rescinded.

Meanwhile, club officials said they have no interest in defensive tackle Daryl Gardener, who has been permitted by the Denver Broncos to speak to other teams. Recent reports have linked the Redskins to Gardener, who was named their player of the year in 2002 before spending a disastrous year with the Broncos.

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