Washington Redskins running back Stephen Davis said today that he was disappointed by the team's offer for a multiyear contract, which he confirmed was less than $16 million over five years.
"It wasn't fair; it wasn't what I expected," Davis said, moments before being honored here as one of six nominees for the NFL player of the year.
A $16 million contract would pay Davis less than what he could expect to earn if the Redskins designate him as their franchise player, a course of last resort to keep him off the free agent market. If Davis is so designated, which Redskins officials have said they would do if a contract cannot be negotiated by Feb. 10, Davis could expect to earn roughly $3.7 million next season--or $18.5 million over five years, assuming there's no pay increase.
"We're miles apart," said Steve Weinberg, Davis's agent. "We just have a total difference of philosophy."
Given that gulf, it looks increasingly as if the Redskins will move to make Davis their franchise player, a step that's often associated with protracted contract talks.
Said Redskins player personnel director Vinny Cerrato: "We feel the same way about Stephen Davis that we have always felt. We want him to always be a Redskin, and we are optimistic that, one way or another, he will be wearing the Redskins' colors."
The Redskins made the offer to Davis and Weinberg in a meeting Monday at a hotel near Redskin Park. Talks were halted until after the Super Bowl, which will be played here Sunday.
Weinberg expects to meet with Redskins officials Monday in Hawaii, site of the NFL's annual Pro Bowl. Davis, along with teammates Brad Johnson and Tre Johnson, earned his first selection to the Pro Bowl this season.
"We thought the Redskins wanted to make Stephen Davis a lifetime Redskin," Weinberg said. "Based on the meeting Monday, we're not on the same page. I hope we can get there."
Said Davis: "That was the first offer. Hopefully the second offer will be better than the first offer. It was something that I really didn't expect them to do, and they did it."
Money isn't the only issue in the impasse. The Redskins are offering a five-year deal, while Weinberg proposed both six- and 10-year deals.
Davis, 25, played a huge role in the Redskins' second-ranked offense this season. He was the NFC's leading rusher, setting a team record as he gained 1,405 yards. The Redskins' performance dropped off markedly late in the season when Davis was slowed by an ankle sprain.
Davis earned $934,000 in 1999 and is eligible for unrestricted free agency. The team has set a Feb. 10 deadline for reaching a contract agreement. The NFL's free agency signing period begins Feb. 11.
Both Davis and the Redskins have been unabashed about their desire for him to remain with the team. Team owner Daniel M. Snyder, elated with the team's playoff season, vowed to make him a career-long Redskin. Davis echoed the sentiment today.
"I want to be with the Redskins," Davis said. "I love the coaches, love the players and I want to be there. It's a great organization. We've got a new owner. He's doing a great job as far as putting the winning desire in players. I want to be a part of it."
Both Davis and Weinberg said they hoped to avoid having the franchise-player designation.
"Every franchise player I'm aware of--in almost every instance, maybe 100 percent--turns into an ugly negotiation, and that's what we're trying to avoid," Weinberg said. "The ball is in their court."
Rams quarterback Kurt Warner was named player of the year, capturing nearly 55 percent of media votes. In addition to Davis, the other nominees were St. Louis Rams running back Marshall Faulk and Indianapolis Colts running back Edgerrin James, quarterback Peyton Manning and wide receiver Marvin Harrison.
Redskins Notes: The Redskins were making plans for defensive line coach Mike Trgovac to visit Redskin Park within the next few days. The Redskins are interested in hiring Trgovac, who was with new defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes in Philadelphia and Green Bay, to work alongside holdover defensive line coach Rubin Carter.
Ron Meeks traveled back to Atlanta to meet with Falcons Coach Dan Reeves and resign as that team's secondary coach. The Redskins plan to have Meeks replace the fired Tom Hayes as their defensive backs coach, and likely will make the hiring official within the next few days. Former Redskins defensive coordinator Mike Nolan appears set to replace Meeks in Atlanta. . . .
The Redskins gave the Denver Broncos a seventh-round pick in this year's draft as well as the 2001 draft as part of an August trade that sent cornerback Tito Paul to the Redskins.
Staff writer Mark Maske contributed to this report from Washington.