Holdouts Loom for Redskins' Rookies

By Snider, Rick | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 25, 2001 | Go to article overview

Holdouts Loom for Redskins' Rookies


Snider, Rick, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Byline: Rick Snider

A potential long holdout by the Washington Redskins' top two draft selections could threaten their impact this season.

The first-round pick, receiver Rod Gardner, and the second-round pick, cornerback Fred Smoot, both appear far apart in contract talks as rookies report today. NFL sources yesterday said the Redskins haven't even presented formal offers to either player during ongoing negotiations. The Redskins want a five-year deal with Gardner instead of the four-year pact he wants and low-balled Smoot's signing bonus.

Coach Marty Schottenheimer expects both players to attend the three-day rookie camp starting tomorrow at Redskin Park but doubts either will sign before veterans report to Dickinson College on Sunday. Unsigned players are permitted to participate in precamp practices but can't report to training camp.

"I don't see anything happening here in the next few days," Schottenheimer said. "We want them here, but you don't necessarily have control over it. They have the matter of choice."

Meanwhile, cornerback Deion Sanders may wait until Tuesday's major league baseball trading deadline before reporting to camp. Sanders could be promoted to the Toronto Blue Jays from their Class AAA Syracuse team if Toronto, as reported, deals an outfielder.

"Right now, I'm still a baseball player, and that's still my focus," Sanders told ESPN.com. "A lot could happen between now and [next week]."

The Redskins could fine Sanders up to $5,000 a day or could seek to void his contract for reporting late. Sanders doesn't have to report to camp if he's on a major league roster, so waiting two days to determine his baseball future is a measured gamble. Sanders is batting .237 for Syracuse.

Schottenheimer declined comment on the team's options with Sanders, saying he'll wait until Sunday before deciding.

The Redskins signed receiver Darnerian McCants, a fifth-round draft pick, to a three-year, $1.004 million deal with a $110,000 bonus. McCants joined defensive tackle Mario Monds, a sixth-round pick, as the only signed rookies, though quarterback Sage Rosenfels, a fourth-rounder, may sign today.

That only five first-round picks leaguewide have signed has hampered negotiations with Gardner. The closest to Gardner (15th overall) are Carolina linebacker Dan Morgan (11th) and Detroit offensive tackle Jeff Backus (18th).

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