By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
The Washington Redskins' refusal to part with Rocky McIntosh may have stalled the team's proposed trade with Chicago for linebacker Lance Briggs, but at the same time sent the strongest signal yet that the 24-year-old linebacker may be an important part of the team's long-term plan after all.
The Redskins offered their sixth overall pick in the April 28-29 draft for Briggs and Chicago's 31st pick; the Bears countered by asking that McIntosh be part of the deal.
During a season that spiraled toward a 5-11 finish, the Redskins learned about two young players, but its players and fans were confused about McIntosh. Quarterback Jason Campbell replaced Mark Brunell on Nov. 19, and though he compiled a 2-5 record as a starter, he was named the No. 1 quarterback. Rookie defensive tackle Kedric Golston was the surprise player, a fifth-round pick playing his way into the starting lineup, beating out veteran tackle Joe Salave'a.
But while the Redskins struggled on defense, especially on the weak side against the run and the pass, McIntosh could not find his way onto the field with the regular defensive unit. His inability to supplant Warrick Holdman as the starting weak-side linebacker seemed to suggest McIntosh perhaps was not the player the Redskins believed they had when they traded two picks to the New York Jets to acquire him in last year's draft.
While McIntosh played consistently on special teams, defensive players privately expressed surprise and some degree of confusion that McIntosh did not start more until he started Dec. 24 at St. Louis. When the season ended, the firing of linebackers coach Dale Lindsey was seen as another repudiation of his teaching, McIntosh's readiness, or both.
But when the Redskins approached Chicago last week about acquiring Briggs, their unwillingness to trade an unproven player who did not participate virtually at all in the base package for a player who has earned a Pro Bowl berth in consecutive seasons may have provided a hint of their view of McIntosh's potential.
The Bears have long thought McIntosh to be a top-notch player. Before last year's draft, McIntosh was coveted by Chicago, which listed him high on its draft board.
"They asked about McIntosh. He was definitely part of the deal they wanted," said a league source, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of negotiations. "But it was more a part of the negotiation than a line in the sand."
But talks with the Bears may not be dead, and, while the Redskins rejected adding McIntosh, it was Washington that initiated talks with the Bears. Chicago could offer a more attractive package or accept the Redskins' initial offer if they are able to work out a secondary deal to trade the sixth pick to another team.