The Washington Redskins agreed to trade wide receiver Rod Gardner to the Carolina Panthers yesterday for a conditional draft pick -- expected to be a sixth-round pick -- ending a six-month saga, and the team signed fullback Manuel White to a four-year contract, leaving only first-round picks Carlos Rogers and Jason Campbell unsigned.
Gardner, the 15th overall pick in the 2001 draft, had been granted permission to seek a trade shortly after last season, but the Redskins were unable to land the third-round draft pick they originally sought for him and the matter dragged through the spring and summer. Vinny Cerrato, Washington's vice president of football operations, said that Gardner was granted permission to take a physical with the Panthers in Carolina today, and, should he pass it as expected, the details of the trade would then be announced.
Gardner and fellow starting wide receiver Laveranues Coles expressed displeasure with Washington's woeful offense last season. After the season, the Redskins traded Coles to the New York Jets for wideout Santana Moss. Gardner did not participate in any of the Redskins' offseason workouts, and by trading him Washington saves $2.1 million on its salary cap, money that it will need to sign Rogers and Campbell. The Gardner trade would put the Redskins about $3.75 million under the cap.
Gardner posted a career-best 71 catches for 1,006 yards in 2002, but has failed to return to that standard and caught just 25 balls in his final nine games last season.
"Rod's excited about the deal, and he's ready to go to camp," said agent Joel Segal, who added that he had no reason to believe the receiver would have any difficulty passing his physical.
White, who can be used as a fullback and H-back, agreed to a deal worth about $1.8 million, including a $425,000 signing bonus, league sources said. White's agents, Bruce Tollner and Leigh Steinberg, declined to confirm the details of the deal but said White is eager to play in Washington under Coach Joe Gibbs. Steinberg described White's role with the team as "robo-back, multi-dimensional running back for the new millennium."
White is also in the process of setting up a donation to his high school in California and UCLA, where he played college football, and will establish a foundation for underprivileged children in the Washington area as well, Steinberg said. "He plans to be very active in the community," Steinberg said.
The Redskins, who report to training camp Sunday, will spend the duration of this week trying to get Rogers and Campbell signed, and there is ample time to do so.
"I don't think we're close on either one right now," Cerrato said. "But I think both agents want to see what kind of deals the guys picked around them get first."
Campbell, a native of Taylorsville, Miss., who played at Auburn, said he had no indication that a deal was close, but he has moved back to his apartment in Virginia and wants to get on the field as soon as possible.
"I'm just going to let everything work itself out," Campbell said during a phone interview yesterday. "That's what I hired an agent to do, to get the best deal he can get for me. So right now I'm just working out, working really hard to stay in shape and I hope it gets done soon."
Segal, who represents Campbell as well, said he and the Redskins have not scheduled any face-to-face negotiations, but held preliminary contract talks recently. "We've had a few conversations and we're trying to move towards an agreement," Segal said.
Redskins Notes: The Redskins were fined $45,000 for violating NFL practice squad regulations in the 2004 season, the team announced yesterday. The team at one point used one additional practice squad player than permitted. . . . Linebacker Mike Barrow still has permission to seek a trade, Cerrato said, after being approached by the team about restructuring his salary, which includes a hefty $1.74 million base salary this season. "It's been discussed," Cerrato said, "but there's been no resolution yet." . . . Arena league wide receiver Damien Harrell worked out with the Redskins this week, league sources said, but will not be offered a contract.