The Redskins could start training camp without wide receiver Danny Buggs, a starter last year who has yet to sign a new contract with the team.
Negotiations between Buggs, who agreed to a new one-year contract without an option clause prior to last season, and the team have reached an impasse, General Manager Bobby Beathard said yesterday. Beathard also said he was pessimistic about signing Buggs unless he lowers his salary demands.
Five other Redskins, including three starters - linebacker Brad Dusek, offensive tackle Terry Hermeling and tight end Jean Fugett - remain unsigned entering the option year of their contracts.
Those three, plus defensive tackle Perry Brooks and cornerback Gerard Williams, will become free agents unless the Redskins sign them by February, according to National Football League rules. If they receive an offer from another team, the Redskins have the right of first refusal. If they sign with another club, the Redskins must receive compensation.
Buggs, a five-year veteran, sampled the free agent waters this spring with no success. Beathard said yesterday the club can't go any further in its negotiations with him.
"Danny and his attorney are coming in here Friday and we will talk," said Beathard, whose team opens training camp with rookies and young veterans Saturday in Carlisle, Pa. "We will see what happens then.
"We aren't going to bring him into camp until he signs a contract. Things are at an impasse. That's why we gave him permission to sign with other clubs. But we are solid in our position."
Buggs' attorney, Spencer Kopf, said yesterday from Dallas that his client had made a "more than reasonable offer to the team. We don't want superstar money, we just want a very fair figure. They haven't moved from their position one cent.
"I came in hoping to negotiate, but they haven't negotiated. I was willing to tie him up for three years but they won't talk. I was shocked, just really shocked that they won't talk.
"Danny isn't the bad guy in this case. He is a great kid who wants to play football. This isn't one of those ridiculous situations where we are making extravagant claims. We were so sure they'd like our first offer that we thought they'd say, 'Great,' and we'd shake hands and that would be it."
Buggs is seeking a contract in the $50,000 to $55,000 range, which Kopf says is "not even up to the average that wide receivers make in the NFL ($59,824). So you can see we aren't asking for much."
Buggs caught a team-high 36 passes for 575 yards last year, a 16-yard-per-catch average. He is among the fastest players on the team, if not the fastest.
"He had a great season, even though he was hurt," Kopf said. "He's going to get better. He's a fine talent.
"I'll tell you this. If the NFL free agent situation was like baseball's, the Redskins would have signed him the first day he was a free agent.
"But they know that this free agent system works in their favor. They can sit and wait and let everyone sweat it out."
Breathard said he hopes to sign all five free agents. Dusek is the team's premier linebacker while Hermeling has been a consistent and versatile linemen despite a horde of injuries in his career.
Fugett, however, is coming off knee surgery and will be watched closely by management. Beathard said the veteran tight end has worked hard on conditioning the past few weeks "and he has his weight down. He has the talent. He just has to push himself."