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Still no deal for Redskins, Howard


CARLISLE, Pa. -- Owner Jack Kent Cooke of the Washington Redskins rejected a compromise proposal by Desmond Howard's agent last night, ending the hope that the Heisman Trophy winner would end his 31-day holdout.

Leigh Steinberg, Howard's agent, and his associate, Jeff Moorad, who represents Jim Lachey, left the team's training camp last night after Cooke refused to agree to what Steinberg had called a "creative" proposal.

The Redskins didn't come close to breaking the stalemate with Lachey and started to prepare to open the season without him.

The Redskins switched guard Raleigh McKenzie to Lachey's left tackle position in case Lachey isn't back for the start of the season.

It now appears the Redskins will break training camp tomorrow with three holdouts -- Howard, Lachey and cornerback Darrell Green.

Steinberg and Moorad spent 14 hours the last two days in negotiations with general manager Charley Casserly and still couldn't make a deal.

An apparent breakthrough in the Howard talks came when the Steinberg lowered his demand to the same $1.5 million a year figure that Sean Gilbert, the third player drafted by the Los Angeles Rams, received on draft day.

Steinberg also asked for a hefty incentive package in the proposed four-year deal and was hopeful at 7 p.m. that the Redskins would agree to the contract.

"I'll say there are creative ways to do deals and we were creative," Steinberg said.

Three and a half hours later, Casserly and Steinberg made a joint announcement that the two sides didn't have a deal. Cooke wouldn't budge on his previous offer of $1.45 million although Casserly simply said: "We just have differences of opinion right now. We don't agree on the figures in the contract."

Steinberg previously had said that he didn't intend to take less than what Gilbert got.

The Gilbert contract became a major bone of contention because it was only a 2 percent increase over the contract that last year's third pick, Bruce Pickens, of the Atlanta Falcons, received.

In proposing to take the same money, Steinberg was willing to take only about a 15.4 percent increase over the $1.3 million that last year's fourth pick, Mike Croel, got from the Denver Broncos.

By contrast, the top half of the first round averaged a 32 percent increase.

It's uncertain where the negotiations go from here. Casserly said they would continue talking, but declined to comment on whether the Redskins would attempt to reduce the offer.

They had previously threatened to reduce the offer by a game check (1/16th) if the holdouts didn't agree to the offer by Monday.

Steinberg earlier expressed frustration that the talks have dragged on for so long.

"It shouldn't have lasted this long. It's absolutely ridiculous. . . . If this was an arbitration, we might be going before a judge and be able to make a case," he said.

Moorad said the Lachey talks are "a good discussion away" from being resolved, but conceded the two sides haven't even agreed on the length of the contract.

Lachey is willing to take a two-year deal for $1.4 million, but wants about $1.8 million for a four-year deal.

Coach Joe Gibbs decided he can't wait any longer to get Lachey in camp.

"We've got to start planning to go the other way and we'll see what happens" he said.

With Lachey out, Mark Adickes ailing with a bulging disk and Ed Simmons slowing coming back from a knee injury, Ray Brown started the first three games at left tackle. But he wasn't effective at pass protection so McKenzie is moving to that spot and Brown is moving to McKenzie's left guard slot. Center Jeff Bostic is starting to get some work at guard.

McKenzie said, "It's a challenge, man, a challenge for me. I want to shut people out."

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