Defensive tackle Daryl Gardener said yesterday that he has been frustrated by the lack of progress in his contract negotiations with the Washington Redskins.

Gardener, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency this offseason, returned to the Washington area yesterday and visited Redskins Park, and said he hopes to have a deal completed by the end of next week. He suggested that the chances of him re-signing with the Redskins would be slim if he does not complete an agreement before the NFL's free agent market opens next month.

"Right now, I don't know where things stand," Gardener said. "I'm here to work out and get this thing moving. It's moving at glacier speed right now."

Sources said the Redskins are intent on re-signing Gardener. But the sides have been far apart on the financial terms of a multiyear deal.

Gardener said repeatedly late in the season that he was certain he would be with the Redskins next season. He said yesterday that he still wants to stay, but also wants to see progress in the negotiations before he leaves town at the end of next week.

"I'm still in the same boat," Gardener said. "I'd rather be here. I've already made a commitment that I'm going to be here. I'd rather be on this team and in this community. We just need to get everything moving. The Redskins have had all the time. I look at it like it's time to go now."

Gardener signed a one-year, $775,000 contract last summer after being released by the Miami Dolphins. The move was regarded by most people around the league as a risk because Gardener had a history of back problems and left Miami after a feud with Coach Dave Wannstedt. But he stayed healthy and content, and was one of the Redskins' most productive players.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder was the catalyst behind Gardener's signing, and Gardener said yesterday he hoped to meet with Snyder in the coming days. If Gardener hits the market, he likely will have several teams seriously interested in signing him. Former Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis, now the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, and Gardener has said he wouldn't mind following Lewis.