The Washington Redskins will get the first pick in next April's college draft if the New Orleans Saints lose their final two games.
The Redskins have three first-round selections--their own and those acquired in trades with the Saints and Carolina Panthers. They have the Saints' first-round choice thanks to the draft-day trade last spring in which New Orleans dealt all its draft choices this year--plus next year's first-round pick--to the Redskins for the No. 5 selection and the opportunity to take running back Ricky Williams.
The Cleveland Browns, at 2-13, have the NFL's worst record. They face the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, then have a bye in the final weekend of the regular season. The Saints are 2-12, with games remaining against the Dallas Cowboys at home and the Panthers on the road. Every other NFL team has at least three wins.
If the Browns and Saints each finish 2-14, the tiebreaker for the top pick would be strength of schedule. The team with the easier schedule, based upon the combined record of its opponents, would get the No. 1 choice. The current combined record of the 16 teams on the Saints' schedule is 114-111, far worse than the 126-98 mark of the 16 teams on the Browns' schedule.
If Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington opts to skip his senior season, he probably would be the early favorite to be the Redskins' selection, but team officials also are enamored with Florida State wide receiver Peter Warrick. The Redskins also plan to consider trade offers for their picks, and seem prepared to pursue an offseason deal for Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Joey Galloway after failing in their attempts to acquire him early this season.
Turner Will Not Resign
Coach Norv Turner said yesterday he's not considering resigning after the season.
"I've said it before," Turner said. "I said it at the end of last year, and I'll say it now: I'm not going to resign."
The Redskins can clinch a playoff spot with a win Sunday night at San Francisco, and a postseason appearance probably would lead team owner Daniel M. Snyder to retain Turner. There has been a recent string of reports, including one in yesterday's Washington Times, that Turner might resign even if he's invited back by Snyder. But Turner and other Redskins officials denied the reports.
Turner has two seasons and about $2 million remaining on his contract. He would have to forfeit that guaranteed salary if he resigns. According to sources close to the situation, Turner's contract does not contain a buyout clause and the team would not make him a buyout offer. Turner also has three school-age children and likely would be reluctant to uproot his family.
"It's disappointing there's speculation," Turner said. "We're trying to get ready to win a game so we can get into the playoffs. There's been speculation about my future for a long time. This one is way out there."
Running back Stephen Davis was named the Redskins' player of the year by the Quarterback Club. The NFL Pro Bowl selections are scheduled to be announced today, and the Redskins are hopeful that they'll have several players picked for February trips to Hawaii. Davis, the NFL's leading rusher, appears to be a certainty to be selected, and guard Tre Johnson seems worthy of being chosen as well.
Quarterback Brad Johnson also is a possibility. But the St. Louis Rams' Kurt Warner, the NFL's top-rated passer, likely will be named to the NFC squad, and Johnson also is behind the Minnesota Vikings' Jeff George and the Panthers' Steve Beuerlein in the NFC's quarterback ratings. Johnson also must compete with big-name quarterbacks such as the Green Bay Packers' Brett Favre and the Cowboys' Troy Aikman.
Wide receiver Michael Westbrook also has Pro Bowl hopes. Rookie Champ Bailey finished second among NFC cornerbacks in the fans' balloting, but voting by the players and coaches counts for two-thirds of the Pro Bowl selection process.
Home Playoff Game?
The Redskins can capture the NFC East title with two more wins, or one more victory and one more loss by the Cowboys. Winning the division would guarantee them at least one home playoff game.
The Redskins also continue to have hopes of getting a first-round bye and hosting a second-round playoff game. The 12-2 Rams will get one of the two byes in the NFC. If the Redskins win their final two games to go 10-6, they have a decent chance to have the other bye. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lead the NFC Central with a record of 9-5. But if the Redskins beat the 49ers and Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay wins its division with a 10-6 record, the Redskins would get the bye based on a better record in conference play.