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Redskins Re-Sign McCants

By Nunyo Demasio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 31, 2004; Page D03

The Washington Redskins yesterday re-signed restricted free agent wide receiver Darnerien McCants, who tied for the team lead in touchdowns last season, to a three-year contract.

McCants, 25, was given a one-year qualifying offer of $628,000 before the start of free agency, a move that would have given the Redskins a fifth-round draft pick if another team signed him. Although there was interest from other teams, Coach Joe Gibbs made it clear the team didn't want to lose the 6-foot-3, 214-pound wideout, and the sides agreed to a deal that will pay McCants approximately $1.5 million annually, according to sources.

Darnerien McCants tied for the team lead last season with six touchdown catches. (John McDonnell - The Washington Post)

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McCants entered training camp last season on the bubble to make the roster but finished with 27 catches for 360 yards, and tied Pro Bowl wideout Laveranues Coles for the team lead in touchdowns with six.

Monday's acquisition of wide receiver James Thrash from the Philadelphia Eagles for a draft pick -- a trade the Redskins said will be officially announced today -- didn't factor in McCants's contract talks, sources close to the negotiations said.

"They've been bringing in other people all my career here," McCants said. "But I'm like a bad habit. They won't get rid of me that easy."

San Diego, Miami, Oakland and Baltimore were believed to have interest in McCants, but his agent, Harold Lewis, said the player wanted to stay in Washington.

"I asked him what about these other teams?" Lewis said. "And he told me to do my best to keep him in Washington."

McCants caught passes yesterday for the first time since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in early January. During an informal workout at Redskins Park, McCants snagged balls from quarterbacks Mark Brunell, Tim Hasselbeck and Patrick Ramsey, then signed his new deal.

The surgery prevented McCants from participating in Gibbs's three-day minicamp last weekend, but the coach apparently saw enough film to know he wanted to keep him.

"I heard from the other coaches that Coach Gibbs was comparing me to Art Monk. That's crazy," McCants said, referring to Gibbs's former wide receiver. "Now that it's official I can just concentrate on football, and go full steam ahead."

McCants's deal leaves the Redskins $1.5 million under the salary cap, but the team can gain more room by restructuring contracts or releasing players.

Redskins Notes: Thrash agreed to have his contract restructured to make it worth approximately $1 million against the salary cap, sources familiar with the situation said. . . . Gibbs is at the league meetings in Florida with owner Daniel Snyder while Vice President Vinny Cerrato remained in Washington to oversee draft evaluations.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company