Washington Redskins cut 10 off of roster ahead of free agency period

By Rick Maese and Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 5, 2010

The Washington Redskins launched a major overhaul of their roster Thursday, releasing 10 players, including several high-priced veterans, and clearing space for additions that could become cornerstones of Coach Mike Shanahan's remodeled team.

Finally getting a chance to address the Redskins' roster, Shanahan and General Manager Bruce Allen wasted no time making sweeping changes, gutting the team's aging nucleus and signaling a wide-reaching shakeup that promises to have ramifications beyond the 2010 season. The overhaul came just hours before the start of the NFL's free agent signing period.

The cuts went deep, as the team released starters such as defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin and guard Randy Thomas, said goodbye to a captain, running back Rock Cartwright, and cut influential locker room leaders in wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, cornerback Fred Smoot and running back Ladell Betts. Also let go was veteran backup quarterback Todd Collins.

Allen called it "a day of change for the Redskins."

"We feel we addressed some of the concerns we have and addressed our plan for the 2010 season and beyond," Allen said at an evening news conference at Redskins Park. "We've been working on this a few days, a few months in some cases."

In all, the team parted ways with more than 72 years of experience and freed itself of nearly $17 million in 2010 salaries.

The Redskins were free to start spending that money almost immediately. Free agency began at 12:01 a.m., Friday, and many around the league expected the Redskins to be among the busiest teams. Washington was expected to spend the early morning hours Friday pursuing a wish list of free agents, beginning with Carolina's talented defensive end Julius Peppers.

There will be other suitors giving chase after Peppers, though. Shortly after midnight, the Chicago Tribune reported that Peppers had a Friday visit scheduled to Chicago, where the Bears are eager to sign a pass rusher.

The Redskins could also try to negotiate with Arizona linebacker Karlos Dansby and New Orleans safety Darren Sharper. Dansby, however, said on ESPN he has a trip scheduled for Miami.

With Thursday's retirement of six-time Pro Bowler Chris Samuels, the Redskins must also address the left tackle position. The top free agent candidates appear to be Green Bay's Chad Clifton and Arizona's Mike Gandy.

Allen did not discuss specific free agents in his meeting with reporters, and he would not characterize how aggressive the Redskins might be in acquiring free agents.

He did say that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has not placed any financial restrictions on the front office and that the team has spent several weeks planning for free agency.

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