Washington Redskins rookie safety Sean Taylor, whose brief NFL career has been a mini-soap opera, has added his latest twist. Taylor, the fifth overall pick in this year's draft, has fired agents Eugene Mato and Jeff Moorad, stemming from unhappiness over his contract, and will rehire Drew Rosenhaus, according to sources with knowledge of the developments.
According to one source, Taylor has sent termination letters to Mato and Moorad -- who have a partnership -- making his decision official five days after the pair receive the documents. Mato received his termination letter yesterday; Moorad had not. According to another source, Taylor telephoned Rosenhaus yesterday to inform him of the decision, and the agent flew to Washington.
Rosenhaus, who attended last night's Redskins practice at Potomac Falls High School, declined to comment when contacted on his cell phone.
In brief remarks on the telephone last night, Moorad said: "My partner and I are proud to have been involved in bringing Sean to the Redskins. We're confident that Sean will be significantly compensated throughout the course of his rookie contract."
Regardless of Taylor's decision, Mato and Moorad keep the maximum agents' fee of 3 percent for negotiating the deal on July 27. Taylor signed an incentive-laden six-year contract worth a maximum of $40 million, including a bonus of $13.045 million. The bonus, payable over three seasons, is a slight raise over that obtained by last year's No. 5 overall pick, Terence Newman.
Taylor can earn up to $9 million a season any season he is named to the Pro Bowl, which would make him the league's highest-paid safety. The contract is expected to last no more than four years. If Taylor flops, the deal is likely to be worth about $18 million.
Taylor became the first top-10 pick to sign a contract after his agents surprised the Redskins by flying into Washington to finalize the deal and get him to camp on time.
According to one source, Taylor became upset after seeing the contracts signed by other first-round picks and hopes that Rosenhaus can eventually negotiate a new deal. The collective bargaining agreement prevents a rookie from renegotiating a contract until after his first season.
Yesterday, team vice president Vinny Cerrato, who sat with Rosenhaus at last night's practice, declined to comment. Taylor was not available following yesterday's practice.
The contract had appeared to end a drama-filled offseason, which included Taylor firing Rosenhaus shortly after the draft, being the victim of a prank gone awry after a minicamp practice and being fined $25,000 by the NFL for leaving a mandatory rookie symposium. However, Taylor's woes continued the very next day when he suffered a right knee sprain in his first Redskins workout in several weeks. The injury forced him to miss the first two sessions of training camp, which started Saturday.
Last week, tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. -- selected by the Cleveland Browns one spot after Taylor -- rejected virtually the same deal that Taylor signed. Negotiations between the Browns and Winslow -- Taylor's teammate at the University of Miami -- are at a stalemate. Winslow's agent, Kevin Poston, and father, Kellen Winslow Sr., have criticized Taylor's deal.
"Teams wait for a bad deal to hang their hats on and fortunately for the Browns, that's what happened," Winslow Sr. told the Cleveland Plain Dealer last week. "Just because Sean Taylor signed a bad deal doesn't mean we're going to."
On Monday, former University of Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald -- the third overall pick -- reportedly signed a six-year, $60 million contract with Arizona with a record $20 million in bonuses. Yesterday, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the No. 9 pick, to a six-year deal potentially worth $40 million, including a club-record $9 million bonus. Just five of the 32 first-round draft picks are unsigned.
Taylor didn't choose Mato until late July, and although Mato was the favorite all along, even that move was filled with suspense. According to a source, Taylor hadn't spoken to Mato for several weeks after saying he was reconsidering Rosenhaus. Taylor also contemplated going without representation. But after speaking to Indianapolis Colts tailback Edgerrin James, a former Hurricane represented by Mato, Taylor suddenly called Mato in late July to hire him.
The drama began when Taylor inexplicably fired Rosenhaus two days after the April draft, following his introductory news conference at Redskins Park. The move was curious because Rosenhaus has worked well with team owner Daniel Snyder and had four clients on the club, including Taylor's pal, tailback Clinton Portis. (Rosenhaus recently added wideout Taylor Jacobs.) This offseason, Portis signed an eight-year, $50.5 million deal, which included a $17 million bonus, and Portis had recommended Rosenhaus to Taylor.
During Gibbs's final minicamp in early June, Taylor became the victim of a prank that caused a scare. Linebacker LaVar Arrington had sneaked up behind the rookie and shoved a shaving-cream pie into his face. Taylor was momentarily blinded before getting treatment, forcing him to miss practice the following day because of eye irritation.
Then last month, Taylor was fined for leaving the four-day rookie symposium, held in late June. Taylor had left after one day, telling the Redskins he faced eviction from his Miami apartment. After the NFL informed Washington that Taylor faced a fine, the club hurried him back for the final two days. Taylor, who is awaiting an appeal, has declined to publicly comment since the news conference announcing the deal. The day he was absent from the symposium, the league made a presentation about the importance of media relationships.
"I think in general he's probably a little reluctant to talk to the press," Gibbs said last week.
Staff writer Jason La Canfora contributed to this report.