Redskins Release Veteran Linebacker Marcus Washington

Marcus Washington was a defensive leader for the Redskins but had been limited by injury the past two years.
Marcus Washington was a defensive leader for the Redskins but had been limited by injury the past two years. (By Jonathan Newton -- The Washington Post)
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By Jason Reid and Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Washington Redskins released veteran linebacker Marcus Washington yesterday, another roster move to create salary cap space with the free agent market opening next week.

The Redskins hope to re-sign cornerback DeAngelo Hall and guard Pete Kendall, who are eligible for unrestricted free agency, as well as second- and third-tier free agents in an attempt to address concerns along the offensive and defensive lines and at linebacker. Cutting ties with Washington saved the team $4 million in cap space, according to an NFL source.

Popular with fans, Washington was among the first free agents former coach Joe Gibbs pursued when he returned for his second stint with the Redskins in 2004. Washington, 31, was among the emotional leaders of the Redskins' defense from his strong-side linebacker position. He had 4 1/2 sacks and a personal-best 130 tackles his first season with the team, when he was selected to the Pro Bowl; 125 tackles and 7 1/2 sacks during the 2005 season; and 106 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks in the 2006 season.

Washington, however, was limited to 22 games the past two seasons because of recurring hamstring problems. For the first time in his nine-year career, Washington did not record a sack last season and contributed few big plays. It became clear during the season he was no longer in the team's long-term plans. Attempts to contact Washington yesterday were unsuccessful.

"As free agency approaches there are difficult choices that have to be made," Coach Jim Zorn said in a statement released by the team. "This certainly was a hard decision because Marcus played such an important role on our defense and in our locker room. Marcus has been an outstanding professional and has made some great contributions to the Redskins organization over the past five seasons. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to coach and be around Marcus during my first season as a head coach in the NFL. We wish him the very best."

The Redskins were scheduled to meet with Hall's agent, Joel Segal, late yesterday during the scouting combine in Indianapolis, league sources said. Vinny Cerrato, Washington's executive vice president of football operations, also is expected to speak with agent Drew Rosenhaus about defensive lineman Demetric Evans, another of the Redskins' potential free agents.

The team recently reworked the contracts of defensive end Andre Carter and wide receiver Antwaan Randle El to create salary cap room for the 2009 season. Restructuring the contracts of defensive lineman Cornelius Griffin and tackle Chris Samuels could provide additional cap relief, and the Redskins could also release defensive end Jason Taylor and cornerback Shawn Springs.

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