By Howard Bryant and Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Further signaling the end of Patrick Ramsey's four-year tenure in Washington, the Redskins signed veteran quarterback Todd Collins to a two-year, $2.5 million contract yesterday to join Jason Campbell as a backup to Mark Brunell.
Collins, 34, is an 11-year veteran from the University of Michigan who was a backup in Kansas City to Trent Green but hasn't seen a great deal of action. He did not throw a pass last season and in five years with the Chiefs has thrown only 27, but he is familiar with the offense of new Redskins associate head coach Al Saunders.
Collins broke into the league with Buffalo in 1995 and played there three seasons. In 1997, he appeared in 14 games, throwing for 2,367 yards and 12 touchdowns. In 40 career games, Collins has completed 302 of 546 passes for 3,447 yards and 17 touchdowns, with 19 interceptions. He did not play in the NFL from 1998 to 2000.
Still, the fit in Washington is a natural one because of the connection to Saunders, who will be implementing his offense after leaving Kansas City. Collins had drawn some interest from other teams looking for a veteran backup, but visited only the Redskins. He was vacationing in the Bahamas when Redskins owner Daniel Snyder sent a plane to Freeport on Saturday. He arrived Saturday night and joined Adam Archuleta, Antwaan Randle El, Andre Carter and the Redskins' coaches at the Washington Wizards-Detroit Pistons game. On Sunday, he met for most of the day with Saunders and the offensive coaches before returning to the Bahamas to complete his vacation.
Some teams now believe that with the addition of Collins, the Redskins are more likely to have to release Ramsey, according to a source, because teams will be reluctant to offer much for him, knowing Washington has a glut of quarterbacks. The Redskins would save $1.7 million in salary cap space by cutting or trading Ramsey, and have about $11 million in 2006 salary cap space already devoted to the position.
Ramsey had been in contact with Miami and the New York Jets, but hasn't received overwhelming interest because of a crowded market at quarterback as well as his decreased playing time in Washington over the last two seasons. The Redskins granted Ramsey's agent, Jimmy Sexton, permission to seek a trade weeks ago. The Jets inquired about Ramsey when starting quarterback Chad Pennington was injured early in 2005. Ramsey visited the Jets last week, but the sides have been unable to agree on a deal.
Former Minnesota Vikings star Daunte Culpepper, a former Pro Bowl quarterback who has performed in the postseason but is coming off injury problems, merited just a second-round pick from Miami yesterday, which may further diminish Ramsey's trade value. According to sources, the Redskins had hoped for at least a fourth-round pick for Ramsey.
Former coach Steve Spurrier pushed to use a first-round pick on Ramsey in 2002, believing his strong arm and intellect would make him perfect for the offense he was installing. But when Ramsey took over in 2003, he was pummeled by blitzing defenders. He was recovering from foot surgery when Spurrier left and Joe Gibbs returned to run the team as president and coach.
Gibbs immediately acquired veteran quarterback Mark Brunell in his first personnel move. Gibbs traded three draft picks to Denver, including a 2006 first-round pick, to move up in the April 2005 draft and select Auburn quarterback Campbell.
The two transactions led many NFL personnel executives to believe that Ramsey would not be in Washington for long. All doubt was erased in the first game of last season when Gibbs replaced an injured Ramsey in favor of Brunell. Ramsey never regained his starting job, and, shortly after that, he met with Gibbs and was assured that he would be rewarded for his professionalism in the face of the demotion by being traded or released after the season, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
Redskins Notes: Former Redskins starting safety Ryan Clark agreed to a four-year contract with Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh yesterday, according to his agent, Joel Turner. Clark, a previously obscure player who became a regular contributor on one of the NFL's premier defenses, negotiated with Washington for a year, but the sides never struck a deal. Steelers officials told Clark they expect him to be their starting free safety, Turner said. The Redskins targeted safety Adam Archuleta in free agency and signed him Monday. . . . Vinny Cerrato, vice president of football operations, has contacted the agent for free agent linebacker Sam Cowart, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Cowart, an eight-year veteran, played middle linebacker in Buffalo under Gregg Williams, assistant head coach-defense, and is familiar with the system. Cowart wants to continue to play middle linebacker, according to his agent, Paul Healy, and has visits scheduled for next week but not to Washington. The Redskins need a weak-side linebacker to replace LaVar Arrington, but could move starting middle linebacker Lemar Marshall back to the outside. Most of the prominent free agent linebackers have signed elsewhere. . . .
The Redskins are believed to be pursuing San Diego cornerback Jamar Fletcher for their vacant nickel back spot. Fletcher, 26, is a former first-round pick of Miami who had one sack and one interception last year. . . . The agent for Redskins free agent defensive lineman Demetric Evans said he is talking to several other teams and lining up visits for Evans, who provided depth at tackle and end. . . . To clarify the structure of Archuleta's contract, it includes $10 million in guaranteed money as part of a six-year, $30 million deal, the richest signed by a safety in NFL history. According to a NFLPA source, there is a $5 million signing bonus and a $5 million roster bonus due in March 2007, which is prorated as a $1 million bonus per season for salary cap purposes, keeping Archuleta's cap hit lower.