The Washington Redskins reached a deal with first-round pick Sean Taylor late last night after face-to-face talks with the player's agents at Redskins Park, according to a source who requested anonymity.
Taylor is scheduled to take a 7 a.m. flight today from Miami, where he had been staying until a deal was complete. A news conference announcing the deal tentatively has been scheduled for today, sources said.
Taylor, a free safety, missed the first day of a passing camp, which serves as a prelude to training camp, which will begin Saturday. Nonetheless, Taylor will become the club's first first-round pick to report on time for training camp since cornerback Champ Bailey in 1999.
Taylor's representative, Jeff Moorad, and his assistant, Scott Parker, surprised the Redskins by flying in unannounced from California yesterday to attempt to conclude the contract talks and spent most of the afternoon and evening hashing out the final details.
They broke off talks around 8 p.m. and planned to meet again at 10 a.m. today to complete a deal. However, the parties negotiated again late last night to finalize the deal.
The contract terms are unclear. However, Taylor, the fifth overall pick from the University of Miami, was expected to agree to a seven-year deal with a signing bonus of around $15 million.
The major components of the contract were in place by yesterday afternoon and only a few relatively minor issues -- primarily regarding incentives -- remained to be agreed upon.
There was a sense that the parties were one good discussion away from getting those issues resolved and eager to get a deal done as soon as possible, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
"We're anxious to pick up with discussions and ideally move toward having a deal completed today," Moorad said in a phone interview shortly before arriving at Redskins Park yesterday. "Certainly, we don't have a deal done at this point, but I feel it's appropriate to say that we have moved toward getting something done."
Moorad and Parker arrived at Redskins Park at 3 p.m. and began discussions with owner Daniel Snyder, team salary cap manager Eric Schaffer and Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins' vice president of football operations, about an hour later.
Cerrato expected to continue negotiating over the phone, but Moorad said he chose to fly here because he believed a deal was close and wanted to reciprocate for the flight Cerrato and Schaffer made to his office in Newport Beach, Calif., over the weekend to initiate talks.
Both the team and Taylor's representatives tried to get a deal done by Sunday to allow Taylor to take part in this three-day passing camp, as these practices are focused on quarterbacks, receivers and defensive backs.
"Anytime you miss even a little bit of training camp, you miss out on a lot," cornerback Fred Smoot said. "That's when the team gets to the game plan part of it and putting it in and seeing how we're going to play different people.
"For rookies, it's always going to be harder when you come in late and you've got to catch up with everybody else. So hopefully, the deal gets done as soon as it can and we'll get him here."
The negotiating process has been relatively smooth. Taylor did not settle on Moorad and Eugene Mato as his agents until last Tuesday and the parameters of a deal were put in place after only a few days of negotiations.
Taylor is being counted on to make an impact in his rookie season and could start right away. He has tremendous physical gifts, plays the game with great pace and explosiveness and hits like a linebacker.
However, linebacker LaVar Arrington, who was taken by Washington with the second overall pick in 2000, cautioned against placing too great of expectations on Taylor in his first season regardless of his natural talent.
"Let him be a rookie, let him learn, give him the opportunity to be a rookie," Arrington said. "And if he exceeds that, then whoop-de-do, that's a great thing, but if he doesn't, then he's a rookie and he has to learn what it is to be a professional in this league and that takes a while. . . .
"His athleticism, there's no doubt about it, so it's just a matter of figuring mentally if he's going to catch up sooner or later. It's only a matter of time. He'll be fine."