Linebacker Ken Harvey said yesterday that he plans to re-sign with the Washington Redskins without considering offers from other NFL teams.
Harvey indicated that as far as he is concerned he and the Redskins have an understanding that he will go to training camp with the team and, if he proves he's healthy and still can be effective at age 34, play the upcoming season with a reduced role and salary.
"I'm planning on being here," Harvey said. "When I got here, I said I pretty much wanted this to be my last team. I'm pretty much going to stand by that."
Harvey and his agent, Steve Baker, have some procedural maneuvers to go through with the Redskins by early next week. Harvey was to count $2 million against the salary cap this season. The Redskins will have to terminate Harvey's previous contract, then re-sign him to a deal that apparently will be worth between $400,000 and $500,000. Harvey thus will be a free agent temporarily. But he reiterated yesterday that he doesn't intend to play elsewhere.
"I want to see it through in Washington," Harvey said. "I want to see the Redskins get to the playoffs, and I want to be around when it happens."
In 1997, Harvey had his fourth straight Pro Bowl season for the Redskins. He averaged just under 10 sacks per season during that span, and there was no reason to suspect he was about to slow down.
His '98 season, however, was filled with injuries and disappointment. He had only two sacks, and his season ended when he suffered a knee injury in Week 11. The Redskins made offseason plans to go with three younger players -- Shawn Barber, Derek Smith and Greg Jones -- as their starting linebackers this season, and for a while it appeared Harvey could join Gus Frerotte, Terry Allen, Jamie Asher, Cris Dishman and Stanley Richard among the veterans departing the team this offseason.
At one point, Redskins officials seemed intent upon having Harvey retire or accept a financial settlement that would accompany him being waived. But Harvey told team officials he wanted to play one more season. The team relented, agreeing to give Harvey a chance in training camp to prove himself. The Redskins waited for Harvey to decide officially that he didn't want to retire, and Harvey and General Manager Charley Casserly essentially sealed the deal during a conversation on Friday.
Harvey could line up at defensive end as a pass-rush specialist this season, a role for which the Redskins were pursuing veteran free agent Charles Haley.
"I guess I'll mostly be a third-down pass rusher," Harvey said. "I'm not 100 percent sure how it will work once we get to training camp, but I guess I'll get most of my work with the second team. We'll see how it goes. I want to help any way I can. Hopefully I can help."
Redskins Coach Norv Turner said: "Our goal is to get Ken in position to be our third-down rusher, be a good role guy. I know he can still play at a high level. I just think he can't handle the same number of snaps he has in the past."
Harvey acknowledged his new role won't be easy to accept, but vowed that he will do so.
"It's hard," he said. "It's not how you want it to be. But sometimes you have to humble yourself. It happens. It's not something you want to happen, but it happens to just about every player at some point."
Harvey indicated he's healthy, saying: "I feel good. Camp starts next week, and I'll be ready to go."
Haley's agent, Kurt Robinson, said last week that Haley had eliminated the Redskins from serious consideration, and Haley reportedly is set to sign with the San Francisco 49ers, for whom he played from 1986 to 1991 and again briefly last season.