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Redskins' Offseason: Now It's On

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By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Now that the Washington Redskins have hired Jim Zorn as head coach, the team's focus turns to free agency, a period in which owner Daniel Snyder traditionally has dominated headlines with high-priced acquisitions. With executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato making personnel decisions with Snyder in place of Joe Gibbs, the Redskins may be preparing for a return to the busy offseasons of the past.

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Snyder and Cerrato are working to renegotiate a dozen or so contracts, with the team roughly $16 million over the salary cap. It's an annual ritual -- converting base salaries to bonuses for cap savings -- and undoubtedly the Redskins will be left with room under the salary cap to add players.

Numerous league sources, including some with direct knowledge of conversations between Snyder, Cerrato and recent head coaching candidates, have affirmed that the Redskins have interest in trading for Cincinnati wide receiver Chad Johnson, with two league sources saying Johnson is eager to land a hefty new contract from Washington.

Acquiring an elite receiver is Snyder's top priority, league sources said. The Bengals have said they have no intention of trading Johnson, but his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is working quietly to broker a deal, the sources said.

The Redskins also are expected to again pursue Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs, another Rosenhaus client they attempted to trade for last offseason.

Most of the needs on defense -- particularly on the line -- will likely be addressed in the draft, which is what newly promoted defensive coordinator Greg Blache is pushing for, team sources said. Blache has also contacted several veterans -- cornerback Shawn Springs and tackle Cornelius Griffin among them, according to team sources -- to inform them they remain in his plans.

Some change is inevitable, though. Interviews with candidates for the Redskins' head coaching job, as well as with team and league sources, give a sense of the Redskins' preliminary plans.

Quarterbacks

Snyder and Cerrato are intent on seeing Jason Campbell prosper, and the pressure is on Zorn to produce with him in the near term. Campbell will be working under a seventh offensive system in eight years dating from college and some wonder how much patience the Redskins' front office will have with him as he learns another system.

"It's a two-to-three year process," said one veteran coach who, like Zorn, is a disciple of Seattle Coach Mike Holmgren. "I'll be very interested to see what kind of rope that kid gets."

The Redskins have made no attempt to re-sign quarterback Todd Collins; doing so had been considered a high priority under Gibbs and Al Saunders, the former associate head coach-offense.

At least three other teams have interest in Collins, but the Redskins have exclusive rights to re-sign him until he hits the market at the start of free agency on March 1. Several general managers said that bringing Collins back could jeopardize Campbell's development.


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