George Rogers, who has been traded to the Washington Redskins in exchange for the team's first pick in Tuesday's National Football League draft, is expected to receive a salary comparable to the $450,000 he earned last year with the New Orleans Saints, his attorney said yesterday.
The Redskins have scheduled a news conference for 5 p.m. today at Redskin Park to formally announce the trade. Rogers is expected to attend.
But the word was out yesterday, and several of his new teammates were described as "elated."
Rogers, a four-year veteran who gained 914 yards last season for a career total of 4,267, was traded by the Saints for the Redskins' first pick (24th overall) in the draft. Washington also received New Orleans' fifth-, 10th- and 11th-round picks in the draft.
The Redskins have traded their No. 1 pick 12 times in 15 years.
Rogers, 26, earned $350,000, plus a $100,000 signing bonus, when he signed a two-year contract with the Saints last season. He also received a $100,000 loan last season from the Saints.
Ed Holler, Rogers' attorney in Columbia, S.C., said he "assumes" Rogers will receive the same salary this season in Washington. But he said he doubts Rogers will sign a long-term contract with the Redskins.
"I tend to go with the short ones, the one-year contracts," Holler said yesterday from his office. "What if he has a great year next year? Then again, there's stability with the long-term contract."
Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs was in Birmingham, Ala., for a speaking engagement and could not be reached for comment on the trade. General Manager Bobby Beathard also was out of town and unavailable for comment.
Saints' officials refused to comment, and Rogers was not returning calls.
According to the Associated Press, Rogers said from his home in Columbia that he still had not yet been officially notified of the trade. "I'm really excited if that's what's happened. It's a second chance for me," Rogers told New Orleans radio station WNOE.
The trade, agreed upon Tuesday, is contingent on Rogers' successful completion of a physical. If the trade, generally regarded as a coup for the Redskins, produced any questions, they are expected to be answered by the exam.
In July 1982, Rogers, the 1980 Heisman Trophy winner from South Carolina, admitted he used cocaine during his superb rookie year, saying he "made a mistake and it will never happen again."
Holler said drug use "has not been discussed" during his three-week negotiations with Beathard and the Redskins. "I don't know of any problem or anything," Holler said.
The Redskins have checked Rogers' background, Beathard said earlier in the week.
"To do anything (make a trade) with anybody, we will make a thorough check," Beathard said, adding he found "no problems" with Rogers.
According to the players' collective bargaining agreement, drug tests are prohibited except for a preseason physical and one "probable cause" test by team doctors during the season. No spot-checking is allowed, a spokesperson for the NFL Players' Association said.
Holler, a longtime friend of Rogers', said several teams, including Seattle and Kansas City, expressed interest in Rogers, but that the Redskins were Rogers' first choice. Holler called Beathard three weeks ago when he heard through the grapevine that Beathard might be interested in trading for a running back.
The Redskins, who figured they could not obtain the running back they were looking for in the draft, have been searching for a young established back since January.
"Rogers likes the organization," Holler said. "They're a potential championship team every year. He likes the style of offense, and all their running plays. And he likes Coach Joe Gibbs.
"At New Orleans, when they get behind (which they did often during a 7-9 season in 1984), they have to pass a lot," Holler added. "George likes to run, he wants to run 30-40 times a game."
The Redskins probably will use Rogers as often as they use John Riggins, who played with a bad back last season but still gained 1,239 yards.
Riggins, 35, is expected to make a decision on whether or not he will retire this season at the Redskins' training camp in July and August.
The Redskins look at Rogers as a player out of Riggins' mold (only younger and far less experienced), a player capable of breaking long runs, but most valuable in goal-line or short-yardage situations.
His presence gives the Redskins a very deep backfield that also includes eight-year veteran Joe Washington and second-year man Keith Griffin.
"I think it's great," Washington said of the deal. "He's a great athlete."
Several Redskins greeted the trade with praise. "It's a great deal for the Redskins, getting a quality running back and three draft choices and only giving up one," said free safety Mark Murphy.
It was the talk of Redskin Park. Assistant head coach Joe Bugel spoke with offensive linemen Russ Grimm and Joe Jacoby. "They're very elated," Bugel said. "I think everyone feels it's a great move."