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Team Has $4.037 Million to Use on Its Rookies

By Nunyo Demasio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Washington Redskins have been assigned a rookie-pool amount that puts the club near the middle of the NFL's pack. Washington's rookie-pool allocation is $4.037 million, the maximum Washington is allowed to spend on its six draft picks. The rookie pool essentially is a salary cap within the NFL's salary cap of $85.5 million for 2005.

The Redskins are about $1.5 million under the cap, so the club must create enough room to reach the rookie-pool figure. Serious talks with top picks generally don't occur until early July. Most of the rookie-pool amount is spent on players chosen in the first two rounds. So the Redskins -- who made two first-round picks -- have time to make the appropriate roster moves. June 1 is the date after which teams can release players in cost-saving moves. Last week's acquisition of linebacker Warrick Holdman caused speculation that linebacker Mike Barrow will be released after June 1, which would create about $1.4 million in cap space.

Washington's cap situation is one reason that the club will almost certainly release wide receiver Rod Gardner, if it can't trade him, and gain $2.1 million in cap space.

As the ninth overall pick, cornerback Carlos Rogers is slotted in the rookie pool at close to $1.8 million in cap space. Quarterback Jason Campbell, the 25th pick, is slotted around $1 million. Washington did not have a second-round pick.

Negotiations for high picks are expected to be particularly difficult this year because teams are able to prorate signing bonuses over only five years, which will result in higher cap numbers. Typically, teams have had up to seven years to spread out rich bonuses, easing the cap burden each year.

The 2005 rookie pool totals $126.92 million, which averages about $3.96 million per team. Teams aren't required to spend their entire rookie pool. But agents normally seek about a 10 percent raise from the previous year's slot. The rookie pool increased about 5 percent from last year's league total.

The Redskins -- who rank 15th among 32 teams in pool amount -- also made selections in the fourth through the seventh rounds, and shouldn't have problems signing those players. During the offseason, only a team's top 51 salaries count against the cap.

Each team's portion of the rookie pool is based on the number and position of its picks.

Moss Gets $3 Million Bonus

According to sources with knowledge of Santana Moss's contract extension -- worth about $31 million over six years -- the wide receiver received a signing bonus of $3 million, meaning that the Redskins theoretically could release him before next season without much of a cap hit. However, Moss has bonuses due by March 2006 worth roughly $8 million -- a $7 million option bonus plus a $910,000 roster bonus -- which will almost certainly be triggered. Those figures can become guaranteed this season if Moss were to suffer a career-threatening injury or reach a minimal level of performance involving playing time, touchdowns and receptions . . . .

Defensive tackle Brandon Noble said he hopes to recover from an infection in his right knee in time for the start of training camp in late July, but has no definite timetable. Noble's knee became infected after recent arthroscopic surgery. He is walking with one crutch and said he must wear a small apparatus attached to his left elbow that dispenses medication for another month, ruling him out of June minicamp. Noble missed all of the 2003 season after surgery on his other knee and returned to the field last season. . . .

Coach Joe Gibbs has yet to hear from safety Sean Taylor, who has boycotted offseason workouts. Taylor is not expected to participate in the first of 14 organized team activities today, which amount to practices without pads. Asked if Taylor planned to attend, his agent, Drew Rosenhaus said, "I'm not going to comment on Sean's situation." . . . Barrow will be unable to participate in the organized team activities because of a lingering knee injury, making it increasingly likely he could be released next month.

Staff writer Jason La Canfora contributed to this report.

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