The Washington Redskins have scheduled negotiations with running back Stephen Davis and his representative for Monday. Team officials are prepared to move swiftly to try to sign the potential unrestricted free agent to a multiyear contract by the middle of next week, sources close to the situation said yesterday.
Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins' director of player personnel, confirmed the scheduling of the meeting but declined to say what opening contract proposal, if any, the club has prepared. Cerrato said he is optimistic that progress can be made.
"I think both sides are ready to talk," said Cerrato, who indicated this past Monday that the Redskins will make Davis their franchise player if a long-term deal is not completed by Feb. 10.
This will mark the opening of negotiations with Davis, the NFC rushing champion. Davis's agent, Steve Weinberg, pushed the team in October to sign Davis to a new contract by December, but the Redskins postponed negotiations until after the season.
The Redskins hope to complete a deal within a few bargaining sessions, sources said yesterday. Club officials are scheduled to depart for Atlanta during the middle of next week to attend the Super Bowl and, according to sources, would like to have Davis signed by the time they leave town. The Redskins believe Davis is eager to move quickly in contract talks, sources said.
Davis has expressed a desire to reach a contract agreement with the team as soon as possible. Neither he nor Weinberg was available to comment yesterday.
Davis, 25, had a $934,000 salary during a 1999 season in which he set a club record with 1,405 rushing yards. His value to the team was obvious when the offense struggled while ankle and knee injuries plagued Davis late in the regular season and during the playoffs.
Team owner Daniel M. Snyder has vowed to make Davis a career-long Redskin, and Cerrato has said that Davis will not be on the open market when the NFL's free agent signing period begins on Feb. 11. If a multiyear contract is not completed by Feb. 10, Cerrato said on Monday, the Redskins will make Davis their franchise player--guaranteeing him a salary of about $3.7 million next season and requiring any team signing him to surrender two first-round draft picks as compensation.
Still, the Redskins would rather sign Davis than make him their franchise player. Throughout the NFL, franchise players frequently are training-camp holdouts because of dissatisfaction about being taken off the free agent market.
Meantime, the Redskins apparently are prepared to offer a first-round draft choice to the Seattle Seahawks for wide receiver Joey Galloway. But sources said yesterday the Redskins are unlikely to surrender more than the lowest of their three first-round selections in April's college draft--the 24th pick overall--for Galloway. The Redskins also have the second and 12th choices.
The Redskins offered the Seahawks a first-round pick--the one that turned out to be the second selection--for Galloway during the regular season, when Galloway was holding out because of a contract dispute. The Seahawks decided to wait until after the season to consider trade offers for Galloway.
But now the Redskins also have other alternatives, such as the possibility of sending the 12th and 24th picks to the San Francisco 49ers for the third overall choice. The Redskins also might pursue 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice.
Redskins Coach Norv Turner continued his meetings yesterday with members of his coaching staff as team officials decide whether to retain defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, special teams coach LeCharls McDaniel and others.