- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The high-risk and potentially high-reward comeback of defensive end Courtney Brown won’t happen with the Washington Redskins.

The one-time No. 1 overall pick opted to sign with the Denver Broncos yesterday, several sources familiar with the situation said, shunning a modest Redskins offer that a club source said was only for the minimum salary plus incentives.

There was some skepticism around the league as to the deal Brown signed, but word from his camp was that the Broncos agreed to a complex pact that could last one year or several years (depending on Denver’s willingness to exercise options) and is worth well more than the minimum.

It was unclear how much the Redskins ultimately were willing to pay Brown, but the club definitely showed restraint after having him undergo an extensive physical evaluation on March 17.

Brown became available March 14 when he declined a pay cut by the Cleveland Browns and was released. Redskins coach Joe Gibbs and defensive line coach Greg Blache immediately boarded owner Dan Snyder’s private plane to make a pitch to Brown in person.

Brown then made Denver his first visit. Although he later visited Washington (as well as Jacksonville and Seattle, after seeing the offers the Broncos and Redskins made), he apparently opted for a high level of comfort and the chance for significant playing time in Denver.

The Redskins might not be worse off. Brown, the top pick in 2000 draft, hasn’t come close to meeting his potential in the NFL. He missed 33 games over the past four seasons and recorded just 17 sacks in five years with the Browns.

Although some observers compared the Redskins’ pursuit of Brown to their signing of oft-injured defensive tackle Daryl Gardener in 2002, critics noted that Brown never flashed the type of dominance Gardener showed when healthy. Gardener, in any case, now is out of the league with chronic back troubles.

The Redskins are left with Phillip Daniels and Renaldo Wynn as their primary defensive ends, with restricted free agent Demetric Evans and exclusive-rights player Ron Warner as the top backups.

Note — The Redskins signed kicker Jeff Chandler, who made five of six field goals as John Hall’s replacement last season. Chandler wasn’t able to shop around because he had been tendered as an exclusive-rights player. Hall appears to be recovered from his multiple muscle pulls and is expected to participate in minicamps.

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