By Jason La Canfora and Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The Washington Redskins reworked the contract of offensive lineman Chris Samuels and were close to doing the same with defensive lineman Cornelius Griffin, league sources said yesterday, creating more space under the salary cap with the free agent market opening Friday.
The complete terms of the new deals were not available because paperwork was being finalized, but Samuels's $5 million salary will be lowered and the length of his contract extended.
Griffin was scheduled to have a salary of $4.2 million during the 2009 season. The Redskins are expected to reduce their cap figure by several million dollars with the moves.
Washington released veteran linebacker Marcus Washington last week, removing about $4 million from next season's total against the salary cap. The team recently reworked the contracts of defensive end Andre Carter and wide receiver Antwaan Randle El to create cap room.
The Redskins still have one of the worst salary cap situations in the NFL. They could be roughly $10 million under the cap by restructuring a few more contracts and releasing a player such as veteran cornerback Shawn Springs, but that might not be enough for the Redskins to sign a high-profile player when bidding on free agents officially begins Friday at 12:01 a.m.
Internet reports have linked the Redskins to Tennessee Pro Bowl defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who is believed to be seeking more than $30 million guaranteed. The Redskins do not comment on potential moves, and no team would comment about its interest in free agents prior to the market opening because of tampering rules.
During conversations with league officials and agents at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Vinny Cerrato, Washington's executive vice president of football operations, said the team's goals were to re-sign cornerback DeAngelo Hall and to make one modest improvement to the offensive line and another upgrade on defense.
But Cerrato has not indicated that the Redskins plan to revert to their free-spending ways under owner Daniel Snyder, and he often expressed a need to be frugal.
The Redskins sat on the sideline during the previous offseason but are determined to be active this time, team sources said, and Haynesworth was a topic of discussion during meetings at Redskins Park. The Redskins were tied for 28th in the league with only 24 sacks last season, and Haynesworth had a personal-best 8 1/2 sacks -- a significant total for an interior lineman.
Listed at 6 feet 6 and 320 pounds, Haynesworth has excelled at collapsing the pocket from the middle of the line. Washington plans to bring back defensive end Jason Taylor, who could be used more as a strong-side linebacker in an effort to increase his productivity rushing the passer. Bolstering the defensive line could help Taylor rebound after his ineffective first season in Washington.