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Portis Is Open to Restructuring Contract to Stay in Washington

Redskins running back Clinton Portis leaves the field after injuring his knee late in the game.
Redskins running back Clinton Portis leaves the field after injuring his knee late in the game. "Man, I'd love to be back here," Portis said of next season. (By John Mcdonnell -- The Washington Post)
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By Jason La Canfora and Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, January 6, 2008

SEATTLE, Jan. 5 -- Tailback Clinton Portis has alluded to his hefty contract several times this season, wondering if his high cap number and run of injuries might lead to his departure in the offseason. Following Saturday's 35-14 first-round loss to Seattle at Qwest Field, Portis said he hopes to remain a Redskin and is open to another contract restructuring this winter as well.

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"Man, I'd love to be back here," Portis said. "I love my teammates and love the organization, but that's on them. I feel like I'll be here, but if it don't work out you can't hold your head down about it. I gave and left everything I had on the field, and it's up to them to make that decision. It's on them. I don't know what they're going to do, and right now I'm under contract with the Washington Redskins for the next four years. That's where I plan to be."

Portis, 26, again rushed for 1,200 yards but had stretches of poor production and was more effective in the second half of the season, regaining his health after a series of shoulder, hand and knee injuries derailed him in 2006.

His 2008 salary jumps to $5 million, and he is scheduled to count $8.4 million against the salary cap. But owner Daniel Snyder routinely changes contracts, converting salaries to bonuses, which give the player more guaranteed money up front and allows the new bonus to be spread over multiple years for cap purposes.

The Redskins have renegotiated as many as 12 contracts some offseasons, and at $20 million over the cap are certain to continue the practice before free agency begins in March. Veterans Shawn Springs, Marcus Washington, Cornelius Griffin, Santana Moss, Jon Jansen, Randy Thomas, Chris Samuels and Brandon Lloyd also have huge spikes in salary, or hefty bonuses set for 2008, and although most will be restructured and retained, many within the team believe Springs and Lloyd will not be back. Nearly every player of note is under contract for 2008, with backup quarterback Todd Collins and return specialist Rock Cartwright the only prominent potential free agents.

Collins Mum on Future

Collins declined to discuss his individual situation while the team still was playing, but with his outstanding performance as a starter after Jason Campbell was injured, it would seem that re-signing the 13-year veteran would be a priority.

The Redskins plan for Campbell to return as the starter next season, and Collins has proven he's a capable backup. Because of his familiarity with the offense (Collins also worked under associate head coach-offense Al Saunders in Kansas City), Collins could continue to be effective while working behind Campbell, Redskins players said.

"You know his preparation for the game, his approach every week, even when he's not playing," wide receiver Antwaan Randle El said. "You know you can count on him."

Forced to pass often with the Redskins trailing late in the game, Collins threw his first two interceptions in five games. Although the Seahawks returned both for touchdowns, Collins's teammates said he should be applauded for his efforts in helping the Redskins reach the playoffs.

"What he did was great, and we really needed it at the time," Moss said. "I felt like Jason was getting on a roll, he was getting the feeling of really being able to run the offense smoothly, and Todd stepped in for him."

Official Injured

Head linesman Tony Veteri left in the first quarter after Seattle's Lance Laury was blocked into his left leg during a Seahawks punt return. While running near the sideline toward the end of Nate Burleson's 20-yard punt return, Laury collided with Veteri, who was tended to by the Seahawks' staff before being helped off the field. Alternate Rob Vernatchi, who is in his fourth year in the league, replaced Veteri, in his 16th year as an official. . . .

Special teams were a problem for the Redskins, from place kicker Shaun Suisham's missed 30-yard field goal attempt to a 33-yard punt in the fourth quarter for Derrick Frost, to several penalties on kickoffs and kickoff coverage.

"We missed the field goal and we really didn't flip the field like we wanted to," said linebacker Khary Campbell, among Washington's top players on special teams. . . .

Wide receiver James Thrash, who aggravated a high-ankle sprain this week, was inactive. Thrash wore a protective boot and did not practice. He also was sidelined because of an injury during the previous postseason matchup with the Seahawks in January 2006.

The Redskins were so thin at wide receiver in that loss to Seattle that Jimmy Farris started opposite Moss. Farris was released earlier this season after appearing in two games.

In addition to Thrash, Campbell, safety Omar Stoutmire, tight end Brian Kozlowski, defensive tackle Ryan Boschetti, offensive lineman Kevin Sampson and defensive end Alex Buzbee were inactive on Saturday.


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