Much of the talk heading into free agency linked the Redskins with defensive end Cullen Jenkins, and many thought a deal could happen quickly. But when free agency opened, Washington apparently had a higher priority.
"When free agency hit at 10 a.m., they called at 10:01," Stephen Bowen, the former Dallas defensive end who on Thursday agreed to terms with the Redskins, said in a telephone interview. "From there, Coach Shanahan called every day to check and see what I was going to do. The D-line coach, the defensive coordinator did, too. They kept saying they really, really liked me, and they were impressed with the way I played in the past and they really wanted me to be a part of the team. Their enthusiam, that was the big thing."
Bowen said that London Fletcher also called him on Wednesday, making a hard sell on the virtues of being a Redskin. In the end, though, he conceded that the money didn't hurt.
Though Bowen saw relatively little action until the last half of 2010 season, the Redskins rewarded him handsomely with a a five-year deal worth $27.5 million, including $12.5 million of guaranteed money.
"They separated themselves with salary," Bowen said. "It was very hard to say no."
"Dallas had a point where they made a play, and they stopped at a certain point," he continued. "They were not willing to come near a certain number. For me, after that, it was a no-brainer."
Coming from the Cowboys' 3-4 defense, Bowen said he thinks he'll be a good fit in Washington's version of the scheme. Though he played five seasons in Dallas, he only started twice before last season. He began 2010 playing third downs but injuries put him in the starting rotation for the final nine games.
"I showed people I could do that job," he said. "Me coming to the Redskins, I feel like my job will be a lot bigger. I'm an every-down player now -- a full-time starter."
Bowen plans to fly to the Washington area Friday morning and report immediately to Redskins Park. He'll be able to take a physical, but he's not officially a Redskin until Friday evening. He spent the offseason working out near his Dallas home, alongside his good friend DeMarcus Ware.
Coming from a rival, Bowen said he doesn't anticipate a tougher adjustment.
"Honestly, it's really the fans [who] think of it as a rivalry," he said. "The players think of it as a divisional opponent. You want that win in the division and it's same as beating the Giants or Philly."