The Washington Redskins made a flurry of moves Thursday, ridding themselves of Albert Haynesworth by trading him to the New England Patriots and cutting eight veterans — including center Casey Rabach and defensive lineman Phillip Daniels — as Coach Mike Shanahan continued overhauling the team’s roster.
Despite two days of major personnel changes, the Redskins take the field Friday for their first practice of training camp with a lineup still very much in flux.
Washington agreed to contracts with all of its top draft picks by late Thursday night, when it reached deals for undisclosed terms with first-round selection Ryan Kerrigan and second-rounder Jarvis Jenkins. It also added two potential starters through free agency.
But the Redskins still had roughly 20 roster spots open to fill to meet the NFL-allowed maximum of 90 players. And by shedding approximately $12.25 million of salary cap room by releasing veterans, they seemed to be positioning themselves for additional acquisitions in the coming days.
The Redskins traded Haynesworth, their biggest headache from last season, to the Patriots for a fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft. Haynesworth, who was signed in 2009 to a free agent contract that included $41 million guaranteed, clashed with Shanahan repeatedly last season and appeared in only eight games, recording 16 tackles and 21 / 2 sacks. He was suspended for the final four games of the season.
Some of the team’s locker room leaders from recent years were sent packing as well, as the Redskins informed Daniels, a 15-year veteran, and Rabach, an 11-year veteran, they were being released. Also cut were nose tackle Ma’ake Kemoeatu, wide receiver Roydell Williams, backup running backs Andre Brown and Chad Simpson, and punters Josh Bidwell and Sam Paulescu.
“They said they’re going younger,” Rabach said before reflecting on his six seasons in Washington. “The relationships that I made with all the guys on the team and those people in the building [will stand out most]. But on the field, the season Sean Taylor passed was the year that will always be with me. Those guys that were on the team and coaching staff. There were so many highs and lows. And what we did to get in the playoffs: truly special.”
The Redskins further strengthened their defense by luring Stephen Bowen away from the Dallas Cowboys with a five-year deal worth $27.5 million, including $12.5 million guaranteed. He will join Barry Cofield, signed away from the New York Giants on Wednesday, on a revamped defensive line.
“When free agency hit at 10 a.m., they called at 10:01,” Bowen said. “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 enthusiasm, that was the big thing.”
The Redskins also made their first addition to the offensive line by picking up guard Chris Chester, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, for a five-year, $20 million deal, according to his agent, Craig Domann.
But as training camp gets underway, a number of questions remain for Shanahan and his coaching staff, none bigger than John Beck’s audition for the starting quarterback job.
The fifth-year veteran hasn’t taken a regular season snap since his rookie season in Miami in 2007, and spent last season as the third-string quarterback.
But he has impressed Shanahan with his work ethic and leadership skills this offseason.
With the Redskins prevented from holding minicamps at team headquarters because of the NFL labor dispute, Beck helped organized player-led workouts throughout the summer.
“He’s just basically been showing tireless effort to be out here and do the work,” wide receiver Anthony Armstrong said of Beck. “He’s flown out here from California time and time again to throw routes. I almost have to ignore his phone calls and text messages because he’s always like, ‘Wanna throw? Wanna throw?’ I’ve taken advantage of it as much as possible.
“I know he’s been putting in the work and I’ve seen improvement. I know once he gets on the field, he has to be able to go out there and execute, do it time and time again, and he’ll be successful.”
Rex Grossman started at quarterback the final three games of last season but is a free agent. Washington plans on re-signing him, but hadn’t as of Thursday evening, and so he may not even be on the field on Friday.
The Redskins also added sixth-year veteran quarterback Kellen Clemens, but he, like the other candidates, is unproven, having served primarily as a backup for the New York Jets all of his career.
The Redskins also must determine who will protect their quarterback. Trent Williams, last year’s top draft pick, is entrenched at left tackle. But the starting right tackle position remains unfilled.
Jammal Brown was acquired to play there last season, but is a free agent and weighing offers from other teams. If Brown elects to go elsewhere, the Redskins could possibly pursue the Broncos’ Ryan Harris, whom Shanahan drafted in Denver in 2007.
Free agents at other critical positions also likely will trickle in over the course of the next couple of days. The situation will be less than ideal, and none will be able to practice until Thursday, when the NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement is ratified.
But the Redskins — like their 31 counterparts around the league — are trying to make do.
“It’ll be interesting to see how all this goes,” Alexander said. “That’s a lot of key reps guys will miss out on” by not being able to take part in practices on time.
By reaching agreements with Kerrigan and Jenkins, seventh-round offensive lineman Maurice Hurt is the only one of the team’s 12 draft picks to remain unsigned. Kerrigan, taken 16th overall out of Purdue, will be making the move from defensive end to linebacker and will need as much practice as possible to help his transition.
Shanahan declined to comment on any of the Redskins’ moves this week, and hasn’t addressed members of the media since the draft.
He is scheduled to speak to reporters at 6 p.m. on Friday, after all of the team’s transactions can become finalized under NFL rules.
Staff writer Rick Maese contributed to this report.