By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Free agent offensive lineman Luke Petitgout visited Redskins Park yesterday and is a candidate to replace departed starting left guard Derrick Dockery, according to sources. Petitgout, 30, who has spent his entire career playing tackle for the New York Giants, left the facility last night to return home, but negotiations with his representatives continue.
Dockery signed a staggering seven-year, $49 million deal with Buffalo -- exponentially more than the three-year, $12 million offer the Redskins had on the table -- and given how much Washington has invested in the line, the team has been hesitant to splurge again. Tackle Leonard Davis visited Washington this weekend before signing a deal with Dallas worth slightly more than Dockery's. The Redskins had no other free agent visits planned as of early last night, and one of Petitgout's agents, Jason Rosenhaus, declined to comment on anything related to the player.
The Redskins spend significant time evaluating game film on Petitgout, and several members of the staff were impressed. "The tape looks good," one member of the organization said. "He looks like he can play." However, there is concern about why the Giants let Petitgout go, and, though he rarely missed a game before fracturing his fibula in November, he has back problems, according to NFL sources.
Petitgout was drafted 19th overall out of Notre Dame in 1999 and started eight games as a rookie. From 2000 to 2005 he missed a total of seven games, starting all other contests. In 2003 the Giants re-signed him to a long-term deal, including a $10 million signing bonus.
His release last month came as a surprise to many in NFL circles, and to the player himself, according to his interviews with various media outlets. He has been a very productive tackle his entire career, and many believed he would sign with Tampa Bay after taking an initial free agent visit there. Petitgout passed Tampa Bay's physical, according to published reports, but the sides could not reach an agreement.
At 6 feet 6 and 308 pounds, Petitgout could ably move inside to guard, an easier position, and with his experience should have the ability to pick up a new system quickly. Petitgout recently fired agent Tom Condon and hired Drew Rosenhaus's firm. Rosenhaus has a strong relationship with Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and they have completed several significant contracts together.
On Sunday, Coach Joe Gibbs said the team did not feel pressured to make an immediate move for an offensive lineman. Overall, there are a few notable offensive linemen still on the free agent market, including a handful of capable starters, and some within the organization believe Dockery's void could also be filled by the draft should Washington trade down and acquire additional first-day selections.
Redskins Notes: Denver cornerback Dre Bly, who the Redskins attempted to acquire last week and who has told several people he wants to play for Washington, could become available again. The Broncos, who already have three quality cornerbacks, have a free agent visit set up with corner David Macklin, according to reports, and should they sign him it could be a precursor to a Bly trade. The Redskins are seeking additional picks in this draft and are interested in trading down from the sixth overall pick, while the Broncos could entertain moving up. . . .
Cornerback Fred Smoot's contract with the Redskins, signed over the weekend, includes a $7 million signing bonus, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, and is worth a maximum of $25 million over five years.