- The Washington Times - Friday, February 29, 2008

With Jason Campbell set as Washington’s starter and the backup job with his mentor Al Saunders having just come open in St. Louis, quarterback Todd Collins surprised even himself by agreeing to return to the Redskins less than 12 hours into the NFL’s free agent signing period.

Collins’ three-year deal with Washington is likely worth in excess of $6 million.

“I was surprised how fast things happened,” Collins said in a phone interview from his Quincy, Mass. home. “I was going be up for the next feeding [of his two-month-old son] when [agent Brad Blank] called me at 12:05 a.m. He said that Jacksonville and a couple of other teams had expressed interest, but it became clear pretty quickly who was more interested.”

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  • That wasn’t the Jaguars or Rams, despite the presence of Saunders, whose offense Collins had worked in the past seven years, as well as Terry Shea, Collins’ former position coach in Kansas City. Nor was it the the Atlanta Falcons or Baltimore Ravens, who have major questions at quarterback.

    No, it instead was the Redskins, for whom Collins had starred last December after throwing just 27 regular-season passes in the previous decade.

    Collins led Washington to four straight victories and a playoff berth, earning NFC Offensive Player of The Month honors with a 106.4 passer rating, five touchdowns and no interceptions. “I’m happy to be back,” Collins said. “I wanted to be somewhere where I could have a chance to compete [to start]. But if I was going to be a No. 2, I wanted to be a Redskin because of the relationships I built the last couple of years and how we finished last season. My family and I like the area and their offer was very fair.” Collins said new coach Jim Zorn, who visited him in Quincy on Thursday, was candid in telling him Campbell will be the starter, but that the 36-year-old backup would play an important role as the Redskins adjust to their new West Coast-based offense. “I love Al,” Collins said. “He’s the reason I came to Washington and was probably the biggest reason I got the opportunity to play last year, but I’m excited about working with Coach Zorn. Last year at this time, I didn’t even know if I would be on the team again. Now I know I’m the definite No. 2.” Collins’ return just about seals the end of Mark Brunell’s four-year tenure in Washington. The 37-year-old Brunell, Washington’s No. 1 quarterback for most of 2004-06, was demoted to third-string in 2007. His contract voided this week. Brunell has told the Redskins he wants to be a backup in 2008, but they are looking for a young third-stringer to develop. Former Maryland starter Sam Hollenbach, who finished the season in that role after Campbell was hurt, remains on the roster and has a leg up to be No. 3 in 2008.

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