By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
The Washington Redskins agreed to trade Adam Archuleta to the Chicago Bears yesterday for a late-round draft pick, NFL sources said, one year after making him the highest-paid safety in league history. The deal, which was contingent on a few routine procedural matters, was not confirmed by either team last night but is expected to be announced today.
Archuleta, 29, became the emblem for Washington's wayward spending during its awful 2006 season, one of a handful of newcomers given massive contracts a year ago who underperformed during a 5-11 campaign. The Redskins gave him a $5 million signing bonus and owed him another guaranteed payment of $5 million this month. While many on the staff have sought ways to get Archuleta more involved in the defensive scheme for the 2007 season and prepared for him to be back on the roster, the club's decision makers, Coach Joe Gibbs and owner Daniel Snyder, were behind closed doors much of yesterday, sources said, hashing out the deal with the Bears.
The Redskins and Archuleta agreed to postpone his original deadline of March 12 to receive his bonus payment in order to facilitate a trade, and the Bears, whose coach, Lovie Smith, has a strong relationship with the safety from their time together in St. Louis, ultimately agreed to pick up that $5 million payment as part of the deal, sources said, beating today's new deadline for the option.
Archuleta will get a new contract with Chicago, while the Redskins are expected to land just a sixth-round pick as compensation for a player who was drafted 20th overall in 2001. Had the Redskins executed the option and kept Archuleta as a reserve (behind starters Pierson Prioleau and Sean Taylor), he would have cost them $2.4 million against the salary cap; by dealing him, he likely will count $4 million in dead cap space, pending any other possible contract restructurings, but will be off the team's books after 2007.
Archuleta, who earned $5.6 million last year, was benched for the second half of the season save for special teams duty, and said he did not speak to the coaching staff much of the year. He also underwent a minor surgery on his ankle this offseason, according to numerous team sources, that was performed in San Francisco and not by Redskins doctors.
The deal yields few dividends for Washington, but, according to league sources, members of the Redskins' upper management believed Archuleta was a primary source for an ESPN article that was highly critical of the team's defense. He marks the third former first-round pick dealt by the Redskins in recent years for a sixth-round pick, joining quarterback Patrick Ramsey and wide receiver Rod Gardner.
Archuleta's departure will leave just three proven safeties on the roster, but the Redskins have been in contact with the agents for safety Omar Stoutmire, league sources said, and could reach an agreement with the player shortly. Stoutmire, a veteran of 10 seasons, played in Washington in 2005 and in New Orleans last year.
Archuleta, who expressed his frustration with the coaching staff near the end of the season, did not return phone messages, nor did his agent, Gary Wichard.
Redskins Note: The Redskins announced the re-signing of offensive lineman Todd Wade yesterday. Wade, who agreed to a two-year deal with $4.25 million guaranteed last week, according to sources, has a good chance to replace departed starting left guard Derrick Dockery.