- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 4, 2007

Fred Smoot is back. The cornerback who left Washington for Minnesota two years ago reached a five-year agreement with a signing bonus of more than $2 million to return to the Redskins last night. Smoot’s signing will be announced at a press conference this afternoon.

“After all he’s been through the last two years, Fred’s happy to be home,” said Smoot’s agent, Bus Cook, referring to injuries, benchings and involvement in the Vikings’ infamous “Love Boat” episode.

Smoot, Washington’s first choice (second round) in the 2001 draft, started 13 games as a rookie ahead of Redskins legend Darrell Green and remained a solid starter the next three years. However, Cook and the Redskins couldn’t agree on a new contract during and after the 2004 season and Smoot signed with the Vikings as a free agent. He was cut on Thursday after two unhappy seasons in Minnesota.

The Redskins already have veteran starter Shawn Springs and 2005 first-round draft choice Carlos Rogers at cornerback and are entertaining St. Louis free agent cornerback Travis Fisher this weekend, so it’s unclear if the plan is for Smoot to start or be a nickel corner.

Washington can afford all four corners but might ask Springs who’ll be 32 next Sunday to rework his contract to reduce his $7.35 million salary cap number.

Health is an issue for all four corners who have recorded just one full, 16-game season since 2000 (by Smoot in 2002). Fisher, who’ll be 28 in September, missed 21 games with the past three seasons. Smoot, who turns 28 next month, was hurt three times during his two years in Minnesota. Springs missed half of 2006 with three separate injuries. Rogers, who’ll be 26 in July, sat out five games with three different injuries during his first two years.

Meanwhile, offensive lineman Leonard Davis was also at Redskin Park yesterday and said that he hoped to choose between the Redskins and their archrivals, the Dallas Cowboys, last night.

Dallas wants Davis, who seems a little smaller than his listed 6-foot-6 and 366 pounds, to play right guard or right tackle. Washington needs a left guard to replace Derrick Dockery, who signed with Buffalo on Friday. However, Davis’ ability to play tackle would be valuable in case starters Chris Samuels or Jon Jansen was injured.

“Guard, but I’ve played all of ‘em,” Davis said when asked his preference of positions.

The No. 2 pick in the 2001 draft, Davis played his previous six seasons with Arizona but has no intentions of re-signing.

“It’s probably time for a change of scenery,” Davis said. “It’s the second half of my career. These guys want to win. I want to win. I haven’t had that opportunity out in Arizona. Dallas and the Redskins, I might make a decision this evening. I’ve got to sit down and really think about it, weigh my options, talk to my agent, talk to my wife.”

With Dockery gone and fellow guards Eric Steinbach and Kris Dielman off the market, too, Davis’ price has apparently risen to more than $20 million in guaranteed money since there aren’t that many starting guards available. However, Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said he didn’t feel pressure to sign a free agent at that spot.

“There are other options for us,” said Gibbs, whose team re-signed Mike Pucillo, a former starting guard for Buffalo and Cleveland, last week.

Quarterback Jason Campbell, who accompanied free agent linebacker signee London Fletcher and Smoot to the Washington Wizards’ game on Friday night, continued his salesmanship over lunch with Davis yesterday.

“Leonard’s a good guy,” Campbell said. “We talked about our families. He’s a big man. He could definitely help us. We’ll definitely miss Dock. I was trying to convince him to stay. He was a great teammate, one of the guys I spent time with away from the game. But guys have to make family decisions, business decisions.”

Note — Gibbs said the Redskins are continuing to talk to free agent Todd Yoder, a reserve tight end in 2006, and want to add a backup to Chris Cooley if Yoder doesn’t return.

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