By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The Washington Redskins will not make a tender offer to safety Reed Doughty, a team source said, and have not made an offer to defensive lineman Demetric Evans, meaning both are expected to hit the open market when free agency begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
A restricted free agent, Doughty began the 2008 season as the starting strong safety but played in only four games because of a nerve problem in his back that required surgery, and he finished the season on injured reserve. The operation went well, sources said, and Doughty expects to play this season. Although the Redskins have expressed interest in bringing him back, it appears Doughty, who has overcome many obstacles in his brief pro career, could be headed elsewhere.
"The Redskins have made it clear to us that they want Reed," said Doughty's agent, David Butz. "They made a business decision, Reed understands that, and it's not contentious with the Skins at all.
"Reed really likes it with the Redskins. All things being equal, we can easily see him going back there. In the meantime, we have to do our job and see what's available, what the other options are."
To retain Doughty's rights, the Redskins were required to make a tender offer of a little more than $1 million. The Redskins extended a one-year contract proposal for less than the tender amount, so Doughty will become an unrestricted free agent.
Doughty is fully recovered from surgery and eager to put last season behind him, Butz said. "You can't judge him on his game film from last year because he was hurt," Butz said. "He's not coming back at the same level he was last year. He's coming back at a higher level."
Doughty has reached heights few would have expected after the Redskins chose him with the 173rd overall selection in the 2006 draft. He quickly emerged as a key contributor on special teams and defense despite using a hearing aid in each ear. He had to lip-read and memorize hand signals to overcome his hearing loss.
Doughty also continued to perform well while coping with the chronic kidney failure of his young son, Micah, who was born prematurely. Micah underwent a kidney transplant last year and has been doing well, Doughty said recently.
Doughty moved into the starting lineup in Week 11 of the 2007 season in place of Pro Bowl safety Sean Taylor, who was sidelined because of a sprained knee. He remained with the first team after Taylor's death later that season. Rookie safety Chris Horton moved ahead of Doughty on the depth chart early in the 2008 season, but Doughty continued to contribute, tutoring Horton on the nuances of playing strong safety. Doughty is well respected in the locker room and admired for how he maintained focus during adversity, several players said.
As for Evans, the Redskins met with his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, during the scouting combine at Indianapolis but have not extended a contract offer to the seven-year veteran, a team source said. A deal is not expected to be in place by Friday.
With the Redskins planning to bring back end Jason Taylor and considering re-signing end Phillip Daniels, who missed the 2008 season because of a knee injury, Evans might not be in the team's plans despite his strong performance last season at both end and tackle; he had a personal-best 3 1/2 sacks. He played a bigger role than expected as Taylor, who struggled with knee and calf injuries, was ineffective during his first season in Washington.
Evans is respected in the locker room for his selfless attitude and dedication to his teammates, and losing him would be a blow to team chemistry, several players said.
Of course, the Redskins could make a move toward Evans during free agency and sign him on the cheap if he has no other offers. That was their strategy last season, and it worked for them as several players re-signed for little more than the veteran minimum.
With the exception of cornerback DeAngelo Hall, whom the team has actively pursued during the combine, Washington's other potential free agents have not heard much from management. The Redskins have met with Hall's agent, Joel Segal, and remain interested in reaching an agreement.