Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Center Cory Raymer and aging cornerback Walt Harris will be among a group of five to seven players cut by the Washington Redskins tonight in an effort to get under the $94.5 million salary cap by the 9 p.m. deadline.

Defensive tackle Brandon Noble and punter Tom Tupa, who both missed all of last season with injuries, and safety Matt Bowen, like Raymer a starter in 2004 but an afterthought in 2005, also will be released.

All five have been told they will be waived even if NFL owners approve the deal on extending the collective bargaining agreement with the players association that commissioner Paul Tagliabue brought with him to their meeting in Grapevine, Texas.

Even though the Redskins reworked the contracts of at least a dozen high-priced players — most of them contingent on the CBA extension being rejected — they still could use some cap room to enable them to retain veterans and add free agents and draft picks.

So kicker John Hall, who missed 14 of the past 29 games with a succession of pulled leg muscles, and reserve receiver Taylor Jacobs, a major bust who caught just 30 passes in three years after being taken in the second round of the 2003 draft, also might be cut.

Waiving Raymer ($985,000), Bowen ($2 million), Harris ($2 million), Noble ($1.7 million) and Tupa ($770,000 or $661,000 depending on whether the CBA is extended) would save the Redskins more than $7 million. Hall ($1.5 million or $1.035 million) and Jacobs ($460,000 or $176,000) would clear additional cap room.

Quarterback Patrick Ramsey, who started 25 of 40 games from October 2002 through the 2005 opener, will not be cut. Washington hopes to trade Ramsey, who has one year left on his contract, for a second- or third-round draft pick. Chicago, Miami, Oakland and the New York Jets are believed to be interested in Ramsey but hope to acquire him for a lower-round selection.

While only two starters, strong safety Ryan Clark and tight end Robert Royal, are set to be unrestricted free agents, the Redskins would have little experienced depth under contract if they cut the seven aforementioned players. They would have only two linebackers (Marcus Washington and Lemar Marshall) who have played a snap on defense, two safeties (Sean Taylor and Pierson Prioleau) and one backup offensive lineman (Jim Molinaro).

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