- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 26, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS — Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday backup quarterback Patrick Ramsey and his agent have been given permission to explore trade opportunities and that the team is also discussing potential deals with other NFL teams.

Ramsey, the Redskins’ first-round pick in 2002, has started only eight games the past two seasons and remains the odd man out with Mark Brunell returning as the starter and second-year player Jason Campbell pegged as the quarterback of the future.

“We’re moving ahead, trying to see what opportunities are out there for him and also evaluating what’s best for us,” Gibbs said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I’m not sure if anything will get done, but we’re looking and letting him and [agent] Jimmy Sexton look and talk.”

Gibbs said Ramsey has not formally asked to be dealt but added, “I think I know what his feeling is, and he knows what ours is. He’s frustrated with the situation over the last couple years.”

The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins are potential suitors for Ramsey, who has one year left on his rookie contract and carries a reasonable $1.688 million cap number this season. The Jets have yet to make a decision on Chad Pennington, and the Dolphins could be interested in San Diego’s Drew Brees, set to become a free agent March3.

Ramsey, 27, is 10-14 as a starter and has 34 touchdowns and 29 interceptions in 33 games.

Ramsey’s camp has not brought back a proposal to the Redskins.

“We’ll see if there’s a fit — it has to make sense for both sides,” said Gibbs, who added that Ramsey would be welcomed back if a trade can’t be made. “He’s a valuable guy, and you would have a hole if he’s gone.”

Aside from Ramsey and draft preparation, foremost on the Redskins’ docket this week is getting under the projected salary cap of $95 million. The Redskins have $115 million committed to 2006 salaries and have to be at or under the cap by Thursday.

The Redskins hope a new collective bargaining agreement can be settled early this week and the start of the free agent period can be delayed.

If no extension of the CBA is in place by Friday, there will be no June1 rule, which has allowed teams to cut players after June1 and take the majority of the cap hit in the following year (2007). The Redskins’ habit has been to jettison high-priced veterans or rework the high-priced contracts by giving more bonus money.

“Teams that are really aggressive [in free agency] are concerned, and certainly we’re one of those teams,” Gibbs said. “We have a worst-case scenario that we have been working on for several weeks, we have a best case and everything in between. I’m hoping that we can get something resolved. I would sure hate to see us go into free agency without it done.

“It’s going to be tougher for some teams, and we’ll be one of the teams that it will be tough on.”

Not having a collective bargaining agreement, Gibbs said, “doesn’t make sense for the players or the league.”

If a CBA isn’t hammered out, Gibbs could envision a scenario of players being released with nowhere to go.

“There’s going to be some scurrying,” he said. “We’re holding our breath. For the stability of the league, everybody is hoping. But it’s tough stuff, and you can’t be blind. You have to have Plan A, Plan B and Plan C and be ready to roll.”

Gibbs also addressed several other issues:

• Safety Sean Taylor’s trial on three counts of aggravated assault and one misdemeanor battery charge begins March20 in Miami. He faces a maximum of 46 years in prison.

“We’re hoping that everything works out,” Gibbs said. “With [agent] Drew [Rosenhaus] and everybody down there handling everything, he’ll be well represented.”

Gibbs said he didn’t know whether a Redskins representative would be present for the trial. Once the trial ends and if Taylor doesn’t have to serve jail time, Gibbs expects Taylor to be present for the Redskins’ offseason workouts, which start March27.

“We’ve had talks about that, and I don’t think there will be any problem with that,” he said. “Sean wants to be [at Redskin Park] for that and he felt that last year not coming was a mistake.”

• Gibbs is confident the team — once under the cap — will be able to re-sign safety Ryan Clark and tight end Robert Royal. Both will be unrestricted free agents.

“What we’re hoping is that we’re the best place for them. It’s a tough situation because what happens with your free agents, you think they fit in at a certain salary level, and they have other ideas. Sometimes you get forced into letting them look. Hopefully in our case, they want to be with us.”

• On the subject of linebacker LaVar Arrington, Gibbs said: “He’s had a tough couple years because of the injuries, but the Redskins have made a huge investment there. I know he’s frustrated with the last couple years, and hopefully better days will be ahead for him. It’s a matter of him being totally healthy and having a good offseason.”

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