By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 26, 2006
INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 25 -- As they hope for an extension of the NFL's labor agreement to improve their salary cap situation, the Washington Redskins are listening to trade offers for quarterback Patrick Ramsey, Coach Joe Gibbs said here Saturday.
At the NFL's scouting combine, Gibbs said the team had granted permission for Ramsey and his agent, Jimmy Sexton, to speak to other clubs regarding a trade. But Ramsey and Sexton have not come back to the Redskins with a suitable trade partner, Gibbs said, and the search has been complicated by possible surprise entries such as Drew Brees and Daunte Culpepper into the quarterback market.
"We're kind of working with Jimmy Sexton and Patrick," Gibbs said. "I think we're just kind of moving ahead, trying to see what opportunities are out there for him and also to evaluate what's best for us. I'm not sure anything will get done. But we are looking and we're letting them also look and talk, so we're just going to see."
Ramsey is unhappy being stuck behind starter Mark Brunell, and the Redskins drafted Jason Campbell in the first round of last year's draft to be their quarterback of the future. Ramsey's camp believes he earned the right to be traded this offseason by accepting his demotion after he was benched by Gibbs in the Redskins' opening game this past season. The Redskins are trying to accommodate Ramsey, but Gibbs said Ramsey will remain in the fold if the club doesn't receive any suitable trade offers.
"It's got to make sense for us," Gibbs said. "We've got a lot invested in Patrick, and it's going to have to make good sense for both sides."
Gibbs said he "definitely" feels Ramsey, a former first-round draft pick, could fit back into the team. The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins have been identified as possible trade destinations, and a handful of other NFL teams also are looking for quarterbacks this offseason.
But what once looked to be a thin free agent market has been bolstered by the addition of Brees, whom the San Diego Chargers failed to sign to a long-term contract. The Minnesota Vikings reportedly could trade Culpepper, and other quarterbacks such as the Jets' Chad Pennington, the Tennessee Titans' Steve McNair, the New Orleans Saints' Aaron Brooks and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Brian Griese could be released. Suddenly the quarterback options appear plentiful.
"Lots of times it goes in a pecking order, which deals get done there, so you're probably working through that," Gibbs said. "Yeah, I think it would be the same at any position. If there are a number of players out there that are high-quality players, it's going to affect how fast something gets done."
Gibbs said the Redskins are rooting vigorously for the NFL's team owners and players to agree next week to an extension of their labor deal. Such an agreement would keep the league's salary cap system in place beyond next season and would create additional wiggle room under next season's cap for the Redskins and other teams. Management officials said the negotiations are scheduled to resume Monday in hopes of completing a deal by midweek. The free-agent market is scheduled to open Friday. The Redskins would have to clear close to $20 million in salary cap space by the end of next week if there is no new labor deal.
"I think probably right now everybody is nervous," Gibbs said. "Certainly we're one of those. I think the teams that are real aggressive are the ones that are really concerned. But basically for us, we have a worst-case scenario that we've been working on for several weeks and we have a best-case, and everything in between. . . . I'm hoping that we get something resolved here starting on Monday, and certainly through next Wednesday.
"I'd sure hate to see us go into free agency without something done. . . . Certainly for some teams in the league it's going to be tougher than others [if there's no labor extension], and certainly we'll be one of the ones it's going to be tough on."
Gibbs also said he believes that safety Sean Taylor, who is facing gun-related charges in Florida, will participate in the Redskins' offseason program if he is legally able to do so.