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Redskins, Sims Seal Deal
Coleman Eyed

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 24, 2000; Page D01

The Washington Redskins re-signed free agent guard Keith Sims to a three-year, $4 million contract yesterday, and remained in the running for defensive end Marco Coleman.

The Arizona Cardinals and Coleman, an unrestricted free agent, had failed in their attempts to complete a contract agreement as of early last night, and Coleman said he has not ruled out re-signing with the Redskins. Redskins officials renewed discussions with Coleman and his agent, Brian Ransom, yesterday and hope they are back in the chase.

"We tried to work something out," Coleman said from Atlanta. "It just didn't get worked out. I'm back where I was, just waiting to see what happens. We'll see. . . . The Redskins aren't out of it. They were never out of it. I always had them in mind. I like it there."

Coleman and Ransom said Tuesday that Coleman was close to making a decision, but the Redskins may have disrupted that by re-entering the mix. According to league sources, the Cardinals have offered Coleman a four-year, $9 million contract that would include a $2 million signing bonus, but Coleman and Ransom are seeking a multiyear deal with a $5 million signing bonus.

The Redskins are not willing to meet Coleman's asking price and are reluctant to give him a long-term deal, sources said, but still want to re-sign him. The team signed Bruce Smith to start at right end, Coleman's position, but has continued to negotiate with Coleman in hopes of starting him at left end. Coleman, 30, who signed as a free agent prior to last season, became one of the club's locker room leaders and best defensive players.

The Redskins also made a push yesterday to re-sign free agent center Cory Raymer. Contract talks with Raymer's agent, Ralph Cindrich, could continue this week in Indianapolis, the site of the NFL's scouting combine. Redskins officials departed yesterday to attend the combine, which runs through Monday.

The team announced the Sims deal yesterday after essentially completing an agreement with the veteran left guard on Tuesday. Sims, 32, said yesterday that he spoke to a few clubs--including the Miami Dolphins, his first NFL team--but expected all along to re-sign with the Redskins.

"I never really doubted it would get done," Sims said. "It was just a matter of coming to a point that both sides could live with financially. I really wanted to come back. I felt like I started something last year, and I think this team is close to the Super Bowl. At this point in my career, that's the most important thing."

Sims became a starter for the Redskins last season and revived a career that had been in decline since he was selected to the Pro Bowl three straight seasons between 1993 and '95 as a member of the Dolphins.

He lives in Florida during the offseason and said the idea of a return to the Dolphins intrigued him. But he added: "That was nice, but I felt like I found a home in Washington."

Sims started alongside veteran tackle Andy Heck last season. Heck is a free agent and Redskins officials are looking to upgrade at the position. The team might pick a left tackle in April's college draft. Sims said he is not bothered by the prospect of playing next to a rookie next season. The Redskins' other option could be Derek Smith, a 1999 fifth-round draft choice from Virginia Tech who missed last season with a knee injury suffered at the combine.

"I don't have any problems with that," Sims said. "Whoever they bring in to play left tackle, whether it's Andy Heck or Derek Smith or someone they draft, that's fine with me. I don't know what's going to happen. Hopefully whoever they get, we can work out together during the offseason and go through the minicamps and training camp together, and have some familiarity going into the season."

© Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company

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