Quarterback Mark Brunell became the latest Redskins player to restructure his contract, sources said. Brunell -- who started the first nine games last season before being replaced by Patrick Ramsey -- reworked his contract to save Washington about $1 million.
The amount is significant because the Redskins have been in a salary cap quandary since trading wide receiver Laveranues Coles to the New York Jets for wideout Santana Moss.
According to sources, Brunell was told that the Redskins needed the extra money to sign other players because of the trade. Although Washington allowed cornerback Fred Smoot to depart, the organization still lacks flexibility to sign its remaining unsigned players plus draft picks. Also, Coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday that Washington would consider signing a released player.
Last year, Brunell signed a seven-year, $34 million contract that included an $8.6 million bonus. Brunell was scheduled to make about $2 million this season -- a $500,000 roster bonus due this month, plus $1.5 million in base salary. Sources with knowledge of the details said that Brunell agreed to reduce his roster bonus to $235,000 and will earn $765,000, the NFL's minimum salary for a 12th-year veteran. Brunell could make up for the difference through incentives, which don't count against the cap.
The incentives for Brunell include team improvement in one of eight offensive categories. Because Washington was the 30th-ranked offense in the 32-team NFL, Brunell will almost certainly earn the incentive.
Before restructuring, Brunell's cap hit for 2005 would have been $3.5 million.
Note: Safety Sean Taylor is scheduled to appear in circuit court today regarding his appeal for a conviction of failing to take a blood alcohol test. Taylor's DWI charge stemming from an Oct. 28 traffic stop on the Beltway was already dismissed. Refusal to be tested carries a mandatory one-year suspension of his license.