- The Washington Times - Friday, May 6, 2005

After officially welcoming receiver Santana Moss to the team long term yesterday, Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said he strongly doubted receiver Rod Gardner would be back.

The Redskins also signed three veterans and quarterback Bryson Spinner, a late addition to last weekend’s rookie minicamp who played at Alexandria’s Episcopal High School and the University of Richmond.

Moss was glad finally to be focused on the Redskins and to have the six-year, $31million contract, which easily topped the deal that the older but more productive Derrick Mason received from Baltimore.

The absence of a long-term deal had kept Moss away from Redskin Park on agent Drew Rosenhaus’ advice since he was acquired from the New York Jets for disgruntled receiver Laveranues Coles on March9.

“I’m glad it’s done,” said Moss, whose base salary for 2005, the last year of his rookie contract, was just $448,000. “It was real awkward. I wished we didn’t have to go that route. I wanted to get up here. I wanted these guys to have the right thoughts about me.”

Gibbs has a pretty good idea what Moss can do for an offense that ranked 31st in scoring and 29th in passing.

“We’re getting a receiver who can make big plays,” Gibbs said of the 5-foot-10 Moss, who averaged 18.6 yards a catch in 2004 and caught 74 balls in 2003 after replacing Coles in New York.

Moss, who returned two punts for touchdowns in 2002, also will compete with holdovers Chad Morton, Antonio Brown and James Thrash for punt return duty.

“We think he can be a real weapon there for us,” Gibbs said.

While Moss began working out at Redskin Park, Gardner’s exit after four inconsistent years was all but sealed when Gibbs said he was “kind of skeptical” about his return after their recent conversation.

Although the Redskins granted Gardner’s request to let him shop for a new team after last season, Gibbs had kept the door open, especially after Washington didn’t draft a receiver last month. No trade has materialized, in part because Gardner has just one year left on his contract and wants a new deal, making it clear Washington will have to keep him or cut him.

Washington’s first-round pick in the 2001 draft — one choice before Moss went to New York — Gardner started all but three games over the past four years but was stuck with the nickname “50-50” by his teammates for the ratio of passes he caught. Gardner had 10 catches against Dallas in Week3 last year but just 29 in the rest of the first 12 games.

Gardner’s 227 catches are the eighth most by a Redskins wide receiver but he scored just 17 touchdowns.

The new Redskins are running back Brock Forsey, who gained 134 yards in his second start with Chicago in 2003; former Kansas City tight end Billy Baber and ex-Atlanta receiver Jimmy Farris. Forsey, who was with Miami in 2004, and Farris could help on special teams.

The 6-4, 260-pound Baber, who played collegiately at Virginia and was out of the NFL last year, could push veteran Mike Sellers and rookie Manuel White for playing time behind starting H-back Chris Cooley.

Notes — Linebacker LaVar Arrington reported to Gibbs that his knee, operated on again five weeks ago, is feeling great without any of the ups and downs of the previous post-surgical period. …

The Redskins cut veteran running back John Simon, who was on injured reserve last year, and tight end Kori Dickerson. … Washington’s rookie salary cap pool is $4.037million. … Michael Barrow should be cleared to resume running after a final MRI exam on his long-ailing left knee today. … Gibbs has still yet to talk to absent safety Sean Taylor, who’s also in search of a new contract.

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