By Jason La Canfora and Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, March 12, 2006
On the first day of free agency, the Washington Redskins yesterday acquired wide receiver Brandon Lloyd from the San Francisco 49ers, lost last season's starting tight end and began wooing four talented targets over dinner.
At 6:30 p.m. yesterday, a caravan of four limousines lined up in front of Redskins Park to shuttle top Redskins personnel and free agent receiver Antwaan Randle El, defensive end Andre Carter, safety Adam Archuleta and quarterback Todd Collins to dinner and the Washington Wizards-Detroit Pistons game.
Owner Daniel Snyder, Coach Joe Gibbs, player personnel director Vinny Cerrato, offensive coordinator Don Breaux, assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams and H-back Chris Cooley were joined by Carter, Archuleta and Collins. It was believed that Randle El was also in the limousine. Cooley is represented by Gary Wichard, Archuleta's agent.
Earlier in the day, tight end Robert Royal signed a five-year deal with Buffalo worth a maximum of $10 million, according to league sources. A few hours later, the Redskins completed a deal with San Francisco that sent a third-round draft pick this year and a fourth-rounder in 2007 for the 24-year-old Lloyd, who has a flair for making acrobatic catches and set career highs in catches and yardage last season.
The Redskins are accustomed to making a splash at the start of free agency and Snyder is also known for finding ways to keep players from leaving Washington without a contract, often by spending lavishly on their signing bonuses.
Should the Redskins sign all four players, they will have addressed nearly all of their needs in one fell swoop, and could utilize the draft or lesser free agents to add depth at tight end, linebacker, cornerback and along the offensive line.
Even with the addition of Lloyd, Randle El would greatly enhance Washington's passing game, which relied largely on Pro Bowl wideout Santana Moss last season. Randle El's agent, Fletcher Smith, said yesterday that he received a contract offer from the Chicago Bears early yesterday morning, but that the Redskins were the first team his client would visit.
At the end of a long night, Smith was asked if Randle El's status had changed. "His status hasn't changed at all," he said. "This was more of a get-to-know-you sort of night, and we'll meet again in the morning."
The versatile receiver, who is an excellent return specialist and was a dynamic college quarterback, helped Pittsburgh win the Super Bowl last month and is expected to command a salary worth roughly $5 million a year, according to league sources, with a signing bonus surpassing $10 million. Should Randle El sign elsewhere, the Redskins would give strong consideration to free agent David Givens (New England).
The Redskins have long sought a prolific pass rusher to aid their already stout defense, and Carter, the seventh overall pick by San Francisco in 2001, would fill that role. He posted 12½ sacks in his second NFL season, can also play linebacker in a 3-4 system and, at age 26, could be entering his prime. His father, Rubin, is a former position coach with Washington, and is now head coach at Florida A&M.
Archuleta plays with the physical edge Washington's staff demands, and was an immediate target as well. Starting free safety Sean Taylor could face a three-year mandatory minimum sentence for felony assault charges -- his trial is scheduled for April 10 -- and Ryan Clark, the Redskins' starting strong safety, is scheduled to visit several teams after becoming a free agent yesterday.
Archuleta's agent, Gary Wichard, said the safety has trips planned to other teams, and that he did not expect a decision to be made for several days. Clark's agent, Joel Turner, said he would give the Redskins a chance to match any offer, but suspects the sides could end up parting ways.
Collins is a 10-year veteran who is already well versed in the system of Al Saunders, Washington's new associate head coach-offense. Collins played for Saunders in Kansas City and would serve as insurance behind starter Mark Brunell and rookie backup Jason Campbell. The Redskins are also continuing talks to trade quarterback Patrick Ramsey. Collins was vacationing in the Caribbean, but Snyder sent a plane to pick him up, according to his agent, Brad Blank.
Redskins Notes: Negotiations with Royal had hit a stalemate by midweek, but team officials called Royal's agent late Friday night for a final session, according to a source. The sides remained far apart, however.
With Royal's departure, the Redskins, who are in the market for a more blocking-oriented tight end, according to league sources, expressed some interest in Dallas's Dan Campbell, and could also make a move for Justin Peelle (San Diego) or Marcellus Rivers (Houston) among others. . . .
Former Redskin linebacker LaVar Arrington was scheduled to meet with the New York Giants yesterday and today, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Arrington met with Miami Dolphins officials Friday.