The Washington Redskins yesterday signed two of their draft picks, tackle Derek Smith and place kicker Jeff Hall, and are on the verge of completing a deal with another, linebacker Nate Stimson. Now they'll make a push to sign their top two selections, cornerback Champ Bailey and tackle Jon Jansen, before training camp opens in 16 days.
Meanwhile, veteran linebacker Ken Harvey said he would like to play another season for Washington but thus far has been unable to persuade Redskins officials to permit him to do so. Redskins officials have told Harvey that they would like him to retire or agree to a financial settlement in order to waive him.
The Redskins are wrapping up their final player-related business before the opening of training camp on July 25 in Frostburg, Md. That includes negotiating with a pair of free agents, running back Lawrence Phillips and defensive end Charles Haley, and attempting to sign all their choices from April's college draft so they won't have any training camp holdouts.
Smith, a fifth-round pick from Virginia Tech, received a $90,000 signing bonus and a three-year contract with annual salaries of $175,000, $250,000 and $325,000. He likely will miss some or all of the upcoming season after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery in March. Hall, the team's sixth-round selection from Tennessee, received a $54,000 signing bonus and the same three-year deal as Smith. He'll battle Cary Blanchard and Brett Conway in training camp for the kicking job.
The Redskins planned to complete a deal with Stimson, their fourth-round pick from Georgia Tech, late yesterday or today, and they already have signed their seventh-round choice, Oregon State wide receiver Tim Alexander. That leaves only their first-round pick, Georgia cornerback Bailey, and second-round selection, Michigan right tackle Jansen, unsigned. Both players likely will start this season, so it's important to the Redskins to sign them and get them to training camp on time.
Rick Smith, one of Jansen's representatives, said yesterday that contract talks are going smoothly and he expects a deal to be completed in time for Jansen to be in training camp from the outset.
"We're going fine," Smith said. "I don't see any problems."
The Redskins have intensified their talks with Bailey's agent, Jack Reale, but face a potential stumbling block because they traded down from the fifth to the seventh pick in the first round after being prepared to use the fifth selection on Bailey. The Redskins apparently want to pay Bailey as if he were the seventh pick, but that probably won't satisfy Bailey and Reale.
"We're talking," said Reale, who also represents Stimson and Alexander. "It takes two to make a deal. There are a number of challenges to reaching an agreement, and I wouldn't want to characterize the status of the discussions right now."
Harvey, 34, is signed through the 2002 season but, after four straight Pro Bowl years, had an unproductive 1998 season ended early by a knee injury. The Redskins plan to start three younger players at linebacker this season in Shawn Barber, Greg Jones and Derek M. Smith.
Harvey said he's considering retirement if the Redskins don't want him, even for a reduced salary, but hasn't completely ruled out playing for another team. He indicated he plans to make a decision next week after speaking to Coach Norv Turner and General Manager Charley Casserly.
"I definitely like the Redskins and would like to play here," Harvey said. "I'll see what happens. I'll talk to Charley and Norv and go from there. . . . I promised myself this would be my last team. I'd like to be a man of my word, but I couldn't say for sure."
Harvey said his knee is healthy enough to play, but Redskins officials seem to have their doubts. Casserly would say only: "Kenny is considering retirement, and I'll leave it at that."