- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Just three days after committing $61.5 million in guaranteed money to three players to kick off free agency, the Washington Redskins released defensive end Jason Taylor on Monday after a dispute developed over a $500,000 roster bonus.

The move saves the Redskins $8.5 million against the salary cap. But it also, for the time being, makes the undersized and inexperienced duo of end Chris Wilson and linebacker H.B. Blades starters at the spots Taylor could have filled next season.

“I’m a starter now, and I’m ready,” said Wilson, who added he was surprised by the news.

The Redskins were due to pay Taylor the roster bonus Tuesday. According to a source close to the situation, the team approached Taylor and his agent, Gary Wichard, about converting that sum to a workout bonus that would have been paid in June. The offseason program begins March 16 and runs Tuesday through Thursday for 13 weeks.

Taylor balked at the offer, which would have required him to participate in 75 percent of the offseason conditioning program at team headquarters in Ashburn, Va. He told the team he wanted to spend the offseason at home with his family in Florida; at that point, the Redskins decided to release him.

A message left for Taylor was not returned.

“We’re disappointed that Jason’s not going to be with us, but we didn’t ask him to do anything that we didn’t ask of all of our guys,” a highly ranked Redskins official said. “He’s a [34-year-old] guy coming off a major injury. It wouldn’t be fair to everybody else if he didn’t have to be a part of the program.”

The Redskins acquired Taylor from the Miami Dolphins on July 20, just hours after they lost starting end Phillip Daniels to a season-ending knee injury on the opening snap of training camp. The Redskins gave up their second-round pick in this year’s draft and their sixth-round selection in 2010.

Taylor was at odds with the Dolphins at the time because he skipped the club’s offseason program to participate on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” Despite that and the fact that Taylor soon would turn 34, the Redskins figured he would bolster their lackluster pass rush. Taylor, who has more sacks than any other active player, had 11 sacks for the Dolphins in 2007, just one season after being named defensive player of the year.

But Taylor was hampered by injuries from the start. He sprained a knee in the preseason, returned for the opener and recorded his first sack in a Week 2 victory against New Orleans.

Taylor was kicked in the left calf during a victory against Arizona the next week and underwent emergency surgery the next morning to save his internally bleeding leg. He had a follow-up procedure in October and was never the same, finishing with just 3.5 sacks in 13 games, including eight starts at the more run-oriented right end spot.

“It was really frustrating for Jason to have all the adversity,” coach Jim Zorn said at last month’s scouting combine. “He battled his way through, and I tip my cap to him. It was a disappointment for him to not be as disruptive as he wanted to be.”

While giving the Redskins more than enough money to pay for the return of left guard Derrick Dockery, who Tuesday is slated to sign a deal that counts more than $3 million against the cap, Taylor’s departure is disruptive since the Redskins will have a late entry into the free agent market for linebackers and ends. Chris Canty (whose visit to Washington was scrubbed after All-Pro defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth signed), Channing Crowder, Michael Boley, Keith Brooking, Antonio Smith and Bart Scott already have signed with new teams.

Arizona’s Bertrand Berry and San Diego’s Igor Olshansky head a thin crop of ends. The linebackers, led by Buffalo’s Angelo Crowell, the New York Jets’ Eric Barton, Kansas City’s Donnie Edwards, Jacksonville’s Mike Peterson and Tampa Bay’s Derrick Brooks and Cato June, are more plentiful. None had visits planned with the Redskins as of Monday.

Demetric Evans, who started a career-high 11 games at right end for Washington in 2008, visited San Francisco on Monday. Evans, who will turn 30 in September, had said he didn’t want to come back for a sixth season with the Redskins if he couldn’t start, but now that possibility exists. Daniels, who turns 36 on Wednesday, had his contract voided last week.

“I worked out for the coaches at Redskin Park last week, and it went well,” Daniels said Monday before leaving for his second three-hour workout of the day. “I’m feeling good. I can come back this year and do what I always do. I just don’t know whether the Redskins want me back or not.”

The Redskins official said the club is mulling re-signing Evans, Daniels or Marcus Washington, a five-year starter at strongside linebacker. Taylor’s exit improves the odds of the Redskins using the 13th pick in April’s draft on Texas defensive end/linebacker Brian Orakpo.

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