By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 11, 2007
Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs expressed surprise and dismay yesterday that neither starting free safety Sean Taylor nor starting cornerback Shawn Springs attended the first week of voluntary workouts. Springs said yesterday he plans to join the workouts the first week of June.
Taylor's absence was predicted days ago by some of his defensive teammates, who said they did not believe he would be in attendance. Part of the reason, some teammates believe, is that Taylor, 24, has been unhappy with his contract, which expires following the 2008 season.
"With Sean Taylor, I've had no contact whatsoever," Gibbs said. "I'm not aware of anything there. That's about all I can say about it. I've had no contact."
Taylor's discomfort, teammates said, was exacerbated last season when the Redskins refused a $1.5 million raise to safety Ryan Clark -- Taylor's best friend on the team, who signed with Pittsburgh as a free agent in March 2006 -- but instead signed free agent safety Adam Archuleta to a six-year, $30 million deal with $10 million guaranteed, a record contract for a safety. The Redskins traded Archuleta to Chicago in March for a sixth-round draft pick. In addition, the Redskins drafted Louisiana State safety LaRon Landry with the sixth overall pick in the draft on April 28. Being a top 10 pick, Landry could command as much as $15 million in guaranteed money.
That the Redskins potentially could spend a combined $25 million in guaranteed money to replace Clark, all before Taylor receives a new contract, is a primary source of his displeasure, said his teammates, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Taylor largely was considered the linchpin of the defense after the Redskins made him their No. 1 draft pick in 2004.
The Redskins talked with Taylor's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, on a possible contract extension earlier this offseason, NFL sources said. Gibbs said he had not spoken directly with Rosenhaus, but he said Redskins officials have. Taylor has been working out in Miami.
The offseason workouts run from Tuesday to Thursday of each week leading up to the minicamp in June, but players are not required to attend. However, Gibbs places a high degree of significance on whether players take part.
Gibbs seemed more upset by the absence of Springs, a 10-year veteran who has remained in Scottsdale, Ariz., working out with his personal trainer, former Canadian bobsledder Ian Danney.
Springs, whose salary counts $7.35 million against the salary cap, has been uneasy about his position with the Redskins for the entire offseason, which began with Washington asking him to take a $2 million pay cut and culminated in a face-to-face meeting between Gibbs and the cornerback in March during the NFL owners' meetings in Arizona.
During the meeting, Gibbs took the pay cut off of the table and told Springs he wouldn't be cut on June 1, mollifying Springs's position.
On Tuesday, the first day of workouts, Springs said he had spoken to secondary coach Jerry Gray and assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams, and that he would appear in a "couple, few weeks." Yesterday, Springs reiterated his position.
"I'll be there," Springs said from Arizona. "All I'm doing is getting myself in the best possible shape for the season. I'm a professional football player and being a professional, I'm doing everything I have to do in order to be ready. That's it. I'll definitely be there."
Springs added that he planned to call Gray and Williams to tell them his planned arrival date.
But Gibbs suggested yesterday that he expected Springs to be with his teammates at Redskins Park.
"With Shawn Springs, I've had a lot of talks this offseason," Gibbs said. "We kind of made up our decision how we were going to proceed this year and that we were going to go ahead with our normal situation with him contractually and every other way. I had a sit-down with him in Phoenix. Up to two weeks ago we thought we were in real good shape with him.
"Then all of a sudden we lost contact. I think that's something up here that can happen. It's one of the things you have to work your way through."
On the situation involving both Springs and Taylor, Gibbs added: "We'll see how it works out with those two guys. My focus is on everybody who's been here."
Redskins Notes: Running back Nehemiah Broughton tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. The Redskins expect to place him on injured reserve. . . . Wide receiver Santana Moss and tight end Todd Yoder worked only in individual drills yesterday.