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Deion still a Redskin, for now


By Rick Snider
THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Reserves at middle linebacker, running back and guard are the top priorities, but Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer doesn't plan any moves until at least early next week. That likely includes the release of cornerback Deion Sanders, though Schottenheimer declined to comment on the future of "Prime Time."

Because the Redskins are only $60,000 under the $67.4 million salary cap limit, any move would force the team to renegotiate an existing contract or cut Sanders.

NFL teams can spread the salary cap impact over two years for players cut after today, and Sanders' departure would save $3.5 million this season. That amount roughly would cover the $2 million rookie pool, $1 million emergency injury fund and the $540,000 difference in signing two minimum-salary veterans over two rookies.

However, there's no immediate move necessary that would require Sanders' quick release. The Redskins aren't chasing any high-priced, marquee players who are also being sought by other teams. Washington may sign former Kansas City Chiefs running back Greg Hill or re-sign guard Jay Leeuwenburg, but both are minimum-salary players who have been free agents since February so they likely will remain available. The team's top draft picks traditionally don't sign until shortly before training camp.

"We don't have any sense [of urgency] that we have to make any decisions," Schottenheimer said.

The Redskins' conservative approach to free agency extends a quiet offseason a dramatic departure from last year, when the team spent nearly $100 million on big-name players only to finish 8-8.

The free spending by owner Dan Snyder last year forced the Redskins to release or not match offers to 11 former starters this year and has prevented them from signing prominent free agents.

Schottenheimer likely will enter training camp July 30 with the existing roster, which could include 30 newcomers by the final cutdown. Only 13 players remain from the 1999 NFC East champion team.

"I'm sure we'll add a player or two, but there won't be any major changes from what we have now," Schottenheimer said. "If you think you can find one or two players that can complement what you've been working with the entire offseason, then it makes sense to do it. "We've invested a lot of energy in the ones that are here, and I'd like to give them that opportunity. There's a few guys here that won't measure up to NFL players."

Second-year quarterback Todd Husak, who threw only two passes last season, has impressed Schottenheimer enough over the past month to keep the team from signing a veteran backup like former Baltimore Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer.

Schottenheimer wouldn't rule out signing a quarterback before the regular season, but for now he plans to stick with Husak as Jeff George's backup.

"That first minicamp, [Husak] was not very accurate throwing the ball," Schottenheimer said. "He's made quantum leaps since then. I'm comfortable where we are right now at quarterback."

Meanwhile, the Redskins yesterday continued their month-long workouts at Redskin Park. Running back Stephen Davis was bothered by a sore left calf during the 90-minute practice. It was wrapped for the final half-hour, but Davis walked without a problem.


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