Several veteran Redskins face restricted options this offseason

Jason Campbell received a tender offer from the Redskins, meaning it will cost another team a first-round pick to sign him.
Jason Campbell received a tender offer from the Redskins, meaning it will cost another team a first-round pick to sign him. (Toni L. Sandys/the Washington Post)
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Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 4, 2010

As the Redskins' front office rolls up its sleeves for what's expected to be a busy free agency period for the team, Washington players are already feeling the effects of how a 2010 season without a salary cap will impact their bank accounts -- and some are not happy about it.

On Friday after midnight, there will be a flurry of phone calls across the NFL, as teams scramble to bid on unrestricted free agents. The other class of free agents, the restricted group, already has begun to hear from teams, and players who ordinarily would be classified as unrestricted instead find themselves facing an immediate future with few options.

Quarterback Jason Campbell was among a handful of players tendered offers by the Redskins on Wednesday, signaling a likely return to Washington next season. But for many, a contract extension or the chance to field offers on the open market would be preferred.

"I hate it, man," cornerback Carlos Rogers said of the first-round tender he received from Washington. "That's all I'm going to say. I really don't want to say too much right now. But I don't like it."

"They know they got me for cheap," Rogers continued. "Of course, they're going to use [the tender]. They're going to use what they got to keep me here cheap. If you want me there, you could show me. Tendering me is not showing me."

Like Rogers, linebacker Rocky McIntosh would've become an unrestricted free agent if the Redskins had not made the tender offer, enabling him to leave for any team. But with the tender, the Redskins retain the right of first refusal if another team offers a contract.

"You talk about it and you just try to deal with it. But some guys are like, 'Man, this is tough to have it happen this year,' " said McIntosh, who was given a second-round tender. "Guys don't know how much longer they can play at this level. They just want to be paid for what they're worth, and that's not going to happen this year. So it's just hard for a lot of guys."

In total, there are 212 NFL players who have at least four years of experience and would be classified as unrestricted free agents in an uncapped year, including Campbell, Rogers and McIntosh. With no new labor agreement in place, though, the minimum service time for unrestricted free agents is instead six years and that group of 212 players will become restricted free agents.

There could be a direct connection between the offers tendered to the restricted players and the Redskins' plans for free agency. "I think they're going to use all their money on the unrestricted guys," Rogers said. "That's what I'm hearing."

With an uncapped year, no one is certain how free agency might unfold, but with a new coach in Washington -- coupled with an owner who's not adverse to an offseason splash or two -- many around the league think the Redskins will be among the most active teams.

The Redskins, in fact, are expected to be one of several teams bidding on the services of Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers. In addition, running back Darren Sproles, linebacker Karlos Dansby and safety Darren Sharper could be targeted. And with the retirement of left tackle Chris Samuels, which will become official at a news conference Thursday afternoon at Redskins Park, the Redskins will likely try to shore up their offensive line via free agency.

As for the restricted free agents currently on the roster, they have no bargaining power with their current teams unless the Redskins opt for a contract extension rather than a tendered offer. Other teams could still pursue the Redskins' restricted free agents, but Washington would have a seven-day window to match the competing offer sheet. If the Redskins choose not to, they would then be owed a draft pick as compensation.

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