Redskins, Portis Agree on Contract
"If the Redskins think it's worth it, then it's worth it," Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome said yesterday. "He's a good player. You only have to have one team willing to pay that number. The salary cap, at some point, will get them."
Portis is only the third player in NFL history to rush for at least 1,500 yards in each of his first two seasons. He made the Pro Bowl for the first time last season after rushing for 1,591 yards -- fourth in the NFL -- and 14 touchdowns with 5.5 yards per carry. Portis fumbled only three times, losing just one. In 2001, Portis was named NFL rookie of the year after rushing for 1,508 yards and 15 touchdowns.
At 5 feet 11 and 205 pounds, Portis is small for a back, but his shiftiness and slithering moves make him a big-gain threat every time he touches the ball. Although a power runner is ideal in Gibbs's run-oriented offense, Gibbs won with various types of runners during his first Redskins tenure.
"We had the good guy in John Riggins. We had Joe Washington," Gibbs said last week. Gibbs won three Super Bowls with different tailbacks, including Earnest Byner. "To me, running backs kind of come in all packages and sizes. Earnest Byner was a particular kind of guy that was kind of in the middle. So what you're looking for is just a real good running back."
Redskins Notes: The Redskins have made the lowest tender offer for all their restricted free agents, including wide receiver Darnerien McCants. The moves -- executed before yesterday's 3 p.m. deadline -- make Washington's four restricted free agents more likely to receive offers from other teams. However, the Redskins can match any offer, and say they intend to use the right if necessary.
"We're familiar with the restricted game," Vice President Vinny Cerrato said. "If somebody wants to go after our guys, we look forward to matching the offer."
Washington's other restricted free agents are fullback Bryan Johnson, safety Ifeanyi Ohalete and linebacker Antonio Pierce.
The NFL deadline for matching a contract offer is April 16.
Last season, McCants scored six touchdowns to tie Laveranues Coles with the team lead.
This year's low tender offer cost $628,000, which counts for that amount against the salary cap. If another team signs a restricted free agent, that club must give up a draft pick from the round in which the player was selected. Since McCants was chosen in the fifth round, he is expected to draw much interest. The mid-level tender of $1.368 million would have cost a team a first-round pick to sign McCants.
"This will tell me how the rest of the league sees me," McCants said. "I'm not worried at all. I definitely would love to play for Coach Gibbs. Plus, it's great to play in your home town. If I get a big offer, hopefully the Redskins will stick to their word and match."
Staff writer Leonard Shapiro contributed to this report.
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