- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Washington Redskins rid themselves of their biggest headache last night, trading free agent bust safety Adam Archuleta to the Chicago Bears.

The trade — in which Washington apparently received a sixth-round choice in April’s draft — relieves the Redskins of the rest of the six-year, $30 million contract they gave Archuleta last March. Washington now has five selections in the draft, four in the final four rounds.

Washington wasted no time filling Archuleta’s roster spot, signing safety Omar Stoutmire, who started for New Orleans last season after serving as a backup in Washington in 2005. Stoutmire, who will be 33 in July, will compete with holdovers Pierson Prioleau, Vernon Fox and Reed Doughty to start at strong safety alongside Sean Taylor.

The 29-year-old Archuleta, who was miserable in Washington after being benched at midseason, reunited with Bears coach Lovie Smith, his coordinator during his first three NFL seasons. To do so, Archuleta agreed to a three-year, $8.1 million reworked deal with the Bears, including the guaranteed $5 million the Redskins were due to pay him today.

The Bears had fought the Redskins to sign Archuleta last March.

Archuleta received a $5 million signing bonus last year, $4 million of which eventually will count against Washington’s salary cap. It’s believed the Redskins will use one of their June 1 exceptions so that Archuleta will count only $1.5 million against the cap this year, with the rest coming in 2008.

Archuleta, an immediate starter in St. Louis as the No. 1 draft pick of the eventual NFC champions in 2001, was a disaster in Washington all the way back to preseason and eventually was benched in favor of both 35-year-old Troy Vincent and career special-teamer Fox.

The 6-foot, 215-pound Archuleta, who rose from walk-on to Pac 10 defensive player of the year at Arizona State, is a physical specimen, but he didn’t have a tackle on defense in the final eight games. His poor coverage skills were exposed when he played next to Taylor, an equally undisciplined big hitter. Coach Joe Gibbs was reduced to praising Archuleta for his punt protection until he let a Carolina Panthers player get to Derrick Frost and block a kick.

Chicago lost backup safety Todd Johnson to the Rams this month, and starter Mike Brown finished the last two years on injured reserve. Chris Harris and Danieal Manning, who started Super Bowl XLI at safety, will be in their third and second seasons, respectively, and could benefit from Archuleta’s knowledge of the defense.

Note — Restricted free agent offensive lineman Jim Molinaro, who barely played in his three seasons in Washington before the Redskins chose not to tender him March 1, visited Dallas yesterday.

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