- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 9, 2006

The NFL’s last-minute approval of a new collective bargaining agreement with the players association last night kept the future of several former Washington Redskins starters in jeopardy for one more day.

Cornerback Walt Harris, safety Matt Bowen, defensive tackle Brandon Noble, center Cory Raymer and punter Tom Tupa all are expected to be cut by the deadline to get under the salary cap either today or tomorrow, saving the Redskins $7.355 million. Washington got rid of $4.4 million in salary when it granted the release of three-time Pro Bowl pick LaVar Arrington on Monday.

Cutting oft-injured kicker John Hall and disappointing backup receiver Taylor Jacobs would save another $1.96 million. That $13.715 million would get them under the cap but would not pay for the $712,000 tenders for restricted free agents Derrick Dockery, Ade Jimoh and Chris Clemons. Clemons received his tender offer yesterday.

The salary cap will be $102 million, $7.5 million more than it would have been without the deal.

Most if not all of the dozen veterans’ contracts that were reworked in the last two weeks were voided by the CBA extension, so Redskins director of football administration Eric Schaffer has more work to do. The Redskins want to re-sign strong safety Ryan Clark and tight end Robert Royal, their only starters on the brink of becoming free agents, and want to pursue a starting receiver and a linebacker to replace Arrington in the free agent market.

The beginning of free agency was pushed back another day to 12:01 a.m. tomorrow. Washington also needs a cornerback to replace Harris and a couple of backup offensive linemen but likely will have to acquire those players in April’s college draft.

Meanwhile, quarterback Patrick Ramsey visited the New York Jets, who aren’t sold on holdover starter Chad Pennington. Ramsey, Washington’s starter for 22 of 31 games in which he was healthy from December 2002 through the 2005 opener, has been given permission to find another team. Ramsey lost his job to veteran Mark Brunell in the summer of 2004 and saw little action after being replaced again by Brunell in the first half of the 2005 opener. Washington is also planning to groom 2005 first-rounder Jason Campbell as the 35-year-old Brunell’s successor.

Ramsey, 27, proved his toughness as a rookie by not complaining about absorbing 13 sacks in his first two starts. He has a strong arm but has never cured his penchants for holding on to the ball too long and locking on to receivers. Ramsey has a 10-14 career record with a 75.0 passer rating, 34 touchdowns and 29 interceptions.

The Redskins are believed to be seeking a second- or third-round choice in April’s draft for Ramsey. Suitors probably will offer no higher than a fourth-rounder. Ramsey also is scheduled to visit Detroit, where fellow 2002 first-rounder Joey Harrington has struggled, and Miami, which is expected to release former Redskin Gus Frerotte.

The Jets and Lions also are interested in former Seattle and Cincinnati starter Jon Kitna, while the Dolphins have targeted San Diego standout Drew Brees. Chicago, which has unproven Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton, could be another team in the competition to land Ramsey.

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