The Washington Redskins have decided to excuse safety Sean Taylor from the remainder of their offseason activities, including the mandatory June 17-19 minicamp, following his arrest for aggravated assault with a firearm over the weekend in Miami. Coach Joe Gibbs declined to discuss the matter yesterday beyond reading from a statement issued by the team, and team officials said that Taylor is expected to participate in training camp, which begins July 31.
"Everybody is aware of Sean's situation this week in Miami," Gibbs said, "and basically the league has a personal conduct policy, and we're going to be discussing all of these matters with the league. All questions regarding that should go to the league, if there's any questions about their policies there.
"And with that in mind we're going to notify Drew [Rosenhaus], Sean's agent, that he's going to be excused from participating in the remainder of our voluntary offseason program and including the minicamp coming up next week. We think as an organization right now it's better for him to concentrate on these personal issues and kind of get this hopefully squared away for him."
Taylor has been unavailable for comment and Rosenhaus has not returned calls since news of the investigation into Taylor broke on Friday.
Taylor, 22, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 draft, will be arraigned on two felony counts of aggravated assault with a firearm and one misdemeanor count of simple battery on June 24 in Miami after turning himself in to authorities Saturday night. He was released on $16,500 bond.
Taylor is accused of pulling a gun Wednesday night on two individuals he believed had stolen two all-terrain vehicles from him, and then later fighting with one of the victims. His third-degree felony charge carries a maximum sentence of up to five years, although Taylor's lack of prior felonies would work in his favor. According to a source in the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, certain three-year or 10-year minimum mandatory sentences from Florida's 10-20-Life law could potentially be applicable in Taylor's case, if he is convicted. A prosecutor has not yet been named and such determinations would be made much further along in the judicial process.
Greg Aiello, the NFL's vice president of public relations, said that the league reviews cases such as the one involving Taylor under the terms of its personal conduct policy, which stipulates that "violent and/or criminal activity" committed by any player is "unacceptable." Should a player be charged with a conduct in violation of the policy he must undergo a clinical evaluation, and, "if appropriate," additional counseling. Failure to comply with that evaluation and treatment is punishable by fine and suspension. Anyone convicted of a criminal violation of the policy is subject to disciplinary actions including a "fine, suspension without pay, and/or banishment from the league," the conduct policy states.
According to a source with direct knowledge of the situation, Taylor's contract includes a clause found in "99.9 percent" of NFL deals permitting his team to attempt to recover a percentage of his signing bonus should the player miss any mandatory team activities such as minicamp, training camp or games due to conduct in violation of the personal conduct policy. In such cases the union would generally then file a grievance on the player's behalf, and an arbitrator would ultimately rule on the issue.
Taylor, who was a rookie last season, has already drawn several disciplinary actions from the league and Redskins. He was acquitted of a drunk-driving charge in January. His decisions during the offseason to remain in Florida, decline to return phone messages left by Gibbs and skip voluntary offseason workouts have chafed some veteran Redskins, although several players said Taylor's defensive abilities and positive demeanor in the locker room make him a welcome part of the team, even now.
"What better way can you embarrass the Redskins than by not returning calls from [Gibbs] a guy who has been there and done good things for this team and this organization?" veteran defensive lineman Phillip Daniels said. "But we've got to support him. He needs us, and we need him on the field. We don't need him out there doing crazy stuff like this over an ATV.
"Sean's got to be smarter. Right now it's not about the fact that we need him, it's the fact of how he is as a person, and right now he's destroying his career. He's destroying it real fast. The worst thing you can do in this league is for someone to look at you and say, 'Oh, he's a knucklehead, he's always in trouble.' "
Daniels and other players said they expect Gibbs and Gregg Williams, assistant head coach-defense, to address the team about Taylor's situation today, when players are expected at Redskins Park for a voluntary practice. Taylor has not been seen at the training facility since the final individual meetings with coaches at the conclusion of last season in January.
"He needs to get himself motivated" to play football, offensive lineman Randy Thomas said. "With guns and all of that, I don't get into all of that; it's so childish. Personally, I just try to stay away from things like that. The guy is a great player, but as a man, he's got to take some steps decision-wise."
Redskins Notes: The Redskins signed free agent wide receiver Kevin Dyson yesterday after a workout. Dyson, who turns 30 this month, was productive with Tennessee before suffering major knee problems. He played one game for Carolina in 2003 and was cut by San Diego prior to the 2004 regular season. . . . The Redskins worked out Antonio Freeman, another free agent wideout attempting to revive his career, but he left without a contract. . . . Salary cap manager Eric Schaffer was promoted to director of football administration, the team announced.