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Full WP story on the Jacobs signing....and some Wilky info to boot.


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washingtonpost.com

Redskins Open With All Aboard

Jacobs Is Last Draft Pick To Sign as Camp Opens

By Mark Maske

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, July 28, 2003; Page D01

The Washington Redskins ensured that all three members of the NFL's tiniest draft class would be on the training camp practice field on time by signing their top pick, wide receiver Taylor Jacobs, to a five-year contract yesterday.

Jacobs, the Redskins' second-round choice in April out of the University of Florida, signed a deal worth $4.5 million, including a signing bonus of $1.81 million, according to agent David Ware. The Redskins reported to training camp yesterday and are scheduled to begin practices this morning at Redskins Park.

Club officials also expressed optimism that they would be able to agree to a restructured contract with Dan Wilkinson. The veteran defensive tackle reported to camp yesterday, as he had promised Saturday. Wilkinson's decision to change agents created renewed hope that a reworked deal was possible after he and his former representative were at an impasse with the Redskins over the club's demand that he reduce his team-high $3.5 million salary or risk being released.

Coach Steve Spurrier and his staff greeted players with a 4 p.m. meeting at the National Conference Center, the facility near the team's headquarters in Ashburn where the Redskins are staying during camp. Jacobs's signing meant that the club would not have to endure any camp holdouts by its rookies one year after first-round pick Patrick Ramsey missed the initial 16 days of training camp in a heated contract dispute that nearly resulted in the quarterback being traded to the Chicago Bears.

It is the first time since 1999 that the Redskins will open camp without a draft selection holding out. Avoiding rookie holdouts and having their team assembled early were two of the benefits that owner Daniel Snyder and other Redskins officials envisioned when they employed the offseason strategy of using picks to obtain veteran players. They surrendered four selections -- including their first-rounder -- as compensation for acquiring restricted free agents and traded another for tailback Trung Canidate.

"We pretty much have our team in place,'' Spurrier said. "We've been practicing in all the coaching sessions and minicamps and so forth with the players we believe are going to do all the playing this year. . . . What we all learned -- and thankfully Mr. Snyder agrees -- is that we needed to go out and get some better players at a few positions than maybe what we had last year. . . . He's done his part. Now it's up to us coaches and players to prove him right and show him we can get the job done.''

The Redskins were pleased to get Jacobs, who is slated to open the season as their No. 3 wide receiver, signed for five seasons. The two sides had been haggling in the final stages of negotiations about whether Jacobs would sign a four- or five-year contract. The Redskins agreed to a three-year contract with quarterback Gibran Hamdan, their seventh-round draft pick, on Thursday and completed a four-year deal with guard Derrick Dockery, their third-round choice, Saturday.

Wilkinson informed the Redskins on Saturday that he was switching agents, from George Mavrikes to Brig Owens. Wilkinson and Mavrikes had refused to take a pay cut, but the Redskins were hopeful they could work out a deal with Owens in which Wilkinson would have the chance to recover any lost income through incentives based on playing time.

Spurrier said he intends to emerge from camp with a team more fundamentally sound than the version that went 7-9 last year in his first season as an NFL head coach. Spurrier said he will have more referees monitoring practices than he did a year ago and will stick with the system he put in place for offseason practices of fining players $10 for gaffes like jumping offside or fumbling.

"We hope to be better organized," Spurrier said. "We hope to be fundamentally sounder, maybe, than last year. . . . Until we go do it, it's only talk. I realize that. But we'll try to coach them better this year."

Spurrier declined to specify how many victories would constitute a successful season in his mind but said he fully intends to be in the thick of the NFC East race.

"Certainly we expect to have a winning season," Spurrier said. "My goals haven't changed from last year. I said then, 'Hey, I think we've got a team that can win the division.' I was wrong. . . . Our goals will probably start with winning the division. I'm not saying we're going to. I'm saying that's what our goals are."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company

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I don't know if a new agent means the team should be optimistic or not about having him restructure or not, but it is interesting if this is the way things are going that pretty much everyone got this one wrong. We all assumed the team had no real leverage and Wilkinson would do nothing here but laugh it off. Clearly Wilkinson has taken what's happened a bit more personally and to heart than we'd have thought.

In the end it's probably simple math. Play here and make $1.5 million or so with incentives that can get you $2 million back, or play elsewhere and make $750,000 for a year. That is leverage to a degree and by meeting with Brown and reportedly having a contract in place with Brown there IS a seriousness to the threat to cut him that can't now be avoided.

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I am particularly pleased with the five year part of Jacob's deal. I have a strong feeling that someone (possibly the Jets?) will be gunning for our RFAs in the near future as a sort of revenge for our raids this Summer.

What I don't understand is the Dockery contract (I'm not bothered about Hamdan). We went to a lot of trouble to sign him to a four year contract, seemingly against his wishes, and then allowed it to be easily voided to a three year deal. What is the effect of that on Restricted Free Agency? Does he become a RFA after three years if the last year is voided or what?

If he turns out to be a good signing and therefore presumably voids the final contract year do we end up losing him to a swoop like ours this year??

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