Thursday, May 26, 2005
Free agent cornerback R.W. McQuarters met with Washington Redskins officials yesterday and dined with them last night, league sources said, and could depart today with a new contract. McQuarters, who was recently released by Chicago for salary cap reasons, is expected to work out and undergo a physical at Redskins Park today as the sides continue to negotiate terms.
McQuarters, 28, spent the past five seasons with Chicago and played in all 16 games last season, starting 14. The Redskins currently have only two proven NFL cornerbacks on the roster -- Shawn Springs and Walt Harris -- and while they selected corner Carlos Rogers ninth overall in the draft, he is likely to be integrated slowly. Greg g Williams , assistant head coach-defense, uses three cornerbacks in many of his formations, and McQuarters could provide depth and enhance the special teams units.
McQuarters has returned both punts and kickoffs in his seven seasons and has seven punt returns of 20 yards or more in each of the last two seasons and also returned one punt for a touchdown in 2003 and 2004; the Redskins had only two punt returns of 20 yards or longer last season and have spent considerable effort adding personnel to all aspects of the special teams this offseason. His signing also would further speculation that return specialist Chad Morton could be let go after June 1.
The Bears signed McQuarters to a five-year, $21 million contract in 2001 that included a $5 million signing bonus, but he was not projected to start next season and would have been the team's highest paid player with a $3 million salary. The Bears tried to get a late-round draft pick for McQuarters before releasing him.
He is expected to sign for considerably less than his previous contract, and the Redskins are not the only team to express interest in him, league sources said. The Redskins are currently about $1.5 million under the salary cap.
Defensive coordinator Greg Blache and linebackers coach Dale Lindsey are both familiar with McQuarters from their time on Chicago's staff, and several of Blache's former players have ended up in Washington. While McQuarters would be unlikely to supplant Harris or Springs as a starter, his experience would be welcomed at such a critical position.
McQuarters has played in 99 regular season games, with 10 interceptions.
-- Jason La Canfora