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Gibbs Says Coles Trade Is Unlikely

By Nunyo Demasio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 26, 2005; 3:39 PM

INDIANAPOLIS -- Coach Joe Gibbs said today that a potential trade of unhappy wide receiver Laveranues Coles to the New York Jets for wide receiver Santana Moss is "unlikely."

Gibbs, here for the NFL pre-draft combine, declined to be expansive, but added that the Redskins would bring back Coles if they couldn't work out another trade. According to a source familiar with the situation, the potential for a Coles-Moss trade has greatly diminished for an unspecified reason.

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One strong possibility is Washington's inability to reach an agreement to restructure left tackle Chris Samuels's contract -- a contingency for the trade because it created the necessary salary cap space to absorb Coles's massive cap hit. (Coles has declined to restructure his contract to make it easier completing a trade because the wideout believes that Washington reneged on an agreement to release him.)

Another source believes that the Jets have the sense that Coles would want a contract extension, and would remain unhappy at being traded without his explicit approval. The Jets apparently aren't willing to give Coles an extension.

"I'd say it's not very likely," Gibbs said of the trade during a news conference here. "That's my general feeling on it. But like I said, we value him so if we work out something with a team, we would do that."

Friday, the Redskins and Samuels's agent, Jimmy Sexton, didn't seriously negotiate after exchanging phone calls to reiterate their positions, sources familiar with the situation said. But both sides were expected to restart discussions today. And they have a self-imposed deadline of March 1, when all NFL teams must be under the salary cap.

Restructuring Samuels's contract to Washington's liking would create enough salary cap space to allow the Redskins to trade Coles and absorb a cap hit of more than $9 million. Sexton is using Seattle's signing last week of left tackle Walter Jones as a barometer. Jones signed a seven-year, $52.5 million contract, which included a $16 million bonus. The contract spurred the Redskins this week to rekindle negotiations that reached a month-long impasse.

Gibbs indicated that the Redskins would mull other trade offers if the Moss-Coles deal isn't revived, and wouldn't give up Coles unless Washington gets back value. Several teams have shown interest in Coles, including the Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings.

"Laveranues Coles is a very valuable guy," Gibbs said. "If we can work something out with somebody, that would be fine. If not, he'll probably remain a Redskin. He's very valuable and we think we would have to have some real value (for him). That's a simple statement and I won't elaborate on anything else."

This week, Ravens Coach Brian Billick said that his team had bid for wide receiver Randy Moss before dropping out when the Minnesota Vikings were offered more -- a package including the seventh overall pick in this year's draft and linebacker Napoleon Harris -- by the Oakland Raiders. Billick hinted that the Ravens remain in pursuit of Coles.

"I'll leave that to Ozzie [Newsome, the Ravens general manager]," Billick said. "It's not prudent to say who we're talking to about what. But I'd imagine that anyone who has a receiver is going to believe we're a team to contact."

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