The Washington Redskins will begin face-to-face negotiations with the agents for top draft pick Sean Taylor today, with vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato and salary cap manager Eric Schaffer flying to California for the meetings in an effort to get the safety signed before the start of training camp next week.
Eugene Mato and Jeffrey Moorad, Taylor's agents, said both sides are pushing to get a contract completed by Sunday so Taylor can participate in a three-day minicamp beginning Monday. Players report for training camp on July 30. The parties have been negotiating via telephone for two days and Cerrato and Schaffer will arrive at Moorad's office in Newport Beach, Calif., today, where they will be met by Mato and Taylor's father, who are traveling from Florida. The discussions could last several days, but will begin in earnest this afternoon.
"We'll serve them lunch," Moorad said of Cerrato and Schaffer, "and if they decide they would like to stay for dinner and maybe a meal or two the next day, we'll gladly serve that as well. We're approaching the discussions with the appropriate seriousness and we want to do what we can to put a deal in place."
Taylor was the fifth overall pick in April's NFL draft out of the University of Miami and did not select an agent until Tuesday after firing his former representative, Drew Rosenhaus, three months ago. Taylor officially signed with Mato and Moorad on Tuesday.
Taylor is a native of Florida and makes his home there. He will remain in that area for now but could get to Washington easily should a deal be reached. The delay in signing with an agent has pushed back the start of negotiations, but Moorad said yesterday that they would likely not be too much further along at this point even if Taylor had selected his firm to represent him earlier, given that most top picks sign just before camp and only two first-round picks have signed thus far.
Taylor is a projected starter, but needs time to learn the defense and adapt to the pro game. Mato said he believes that a deal could still be completed before Monday despite the late start to negotiations.
"You shoot for the first possible date to get a deal done, and I know the Redskins really want to have Sean in camp by Sunday," Mato said. "So that is the schedule we are working on and that is what we're hoping to do.
"We're optimistic that something can get done. Obviously, we're a little strapped for time, but the Redskins are eager to get something done and we're eager to get something done, so I don't think the time will be that huge of a factor."
Redskins Notes: The Redskins completed yesterday a three-year deal with offensive lineman Mark Wilson, their 2004 fifth-round pick. Tight end Chris Cooley, a third-round pick, is close to completing his deal, sources said, and a contract could be announced as soon as today. . . . Washington signed tight end Sean Brewer yesterday. Brewer spent last season in Atlanta in a very limited role and faces stiff competition to make the roster.