- The Washington Times - Monday, January 7, 2008

Todd Collins said yesterday he hasn’t given much thought to his impending voyage into unrestricted free agency.

Joe Gibbs likely will say today during his season wrapup press conference he hasn’t given much thought to whether he will return next year.

But the rest of the Washington Redskins talked about both topics at Redskin Park following a team meeting in which Gibbs thanked them for their perseverance and performance.

Summarized, the players want Collins back and expect Gibbs back.

Collins keyed a late-season resurgence by going 3-0 as a starter and throwing five touchdowns. The 36-year-old is expected to gain some interest from teams that might need somebody to keep the starting position warm while developing a young player.

“No ifs, ands or buts about it, they should keep him here,” running back Clinton Portis said. “He led this team, he guided this team, he directed this team to where it needed to go. Hopefully they won’t let him hit the open market.”

Gibbs was credited for holding the team together in the aftermath of Sean Taylor’s slaying and a four-game losing streak. The 67-year-old, who gave Taylor’s father, Pedro, a copy of his book, “Racing to Win,” before yesterday’s team meeting, has one season remaining on the five-year deal he signed in January 2004.

“There’s no doubt in my mind [Gibbs will be back],” left tackle Chris Samuels said. “He should be back because he had a successful season even though we didn’t win our big goal. We made the playoffs, and that was a big goal because a lot of teams were watching at home.”

The Redskins can’t put themselves in another bind and expect to do damage in the playoffs. Two years ago, they started 5-6, and they were 5-7 this season before turning it around.

“This team is getting better and better, and the right kind of people were added to help us win, and as long as they continue to do that, we’ll improve,” defensive end Phillip Daniels said. “We need to start fast and play the first eight games like we played the last four this year.”

During that span, Collins earned himself a new contract somewhere with his play in relief of Jason Campbell, who injured his left knee in the second quarter against visiting Chicago on Dec. 6. He said the team and his agent, Brad Blank, have not engaged in contract talks. Another team can sign him starting in early March.

“I just have to know what their feelings are, and you have to gauge that with the level of interest around the league. … [Playing] would be the ideal scenario. I don’t know if it’s going to materialize, though,” Collins said. “I’d like to have an opportunity to play. I don’t know if that’s going to happen here or happen elsewhere. But I’d like to hear what they have to say.”

Teammates, especially those on offense, toed the line when asked about a potential August quarterback competition.

“It definitely bears watching,” left guard Pete Kendall said. “Todd will have a big say in this, and it’s going to be interesting to see how it all plays out, and I’ll be as interested as anybody. Jason’s got a big upside, and I don’t think anything that’s happened the last four weeks changes his situation. When you consider where he is now and where he’s headed, the question the organization will face is who’s the guy next year and how much can they pay Todd?”

In 12 games, Campbell completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,700 yards, 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

“We all know this is Jason’s team,” wide receiver Santana Moss said. “Jason is going through his learning curve, and I can see him taking this team where it’s destined to go.”

Moss also said he wants Gibbs, who likely will sign a contract extension, to remain the team’s coach next season.

“I hope he’s not going anywhere,” Moss said. “Me being with him for three years has been great because of the person he is and how he approaches the game and the players. He means more to us than just a coach. He’s a father figure, and you can see the way he handles things in life and how serious he takes his life.”

Staff writer Mark Zuckerman contributed to this article.



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