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Howard's agent envisions deal tomorrow


LOS ANGELES -- The Washington Redskins left town last night without getting a contract agreement with top draft pick Desmond Howard, but they still hope to see him tomorrow at the new Redskin Park.

Leigh Steinberg, Howard's agent, met with general manager Charley Casserly yesterday before the team's preseason game with the Los Angeles Raiders and said, "I don't anticipate this lasting much longer."

Steinberg said he'll talk with Casserly by telephone today, and it's possible they could reach a settlement that would enable Howard to join the team tomorrow when it moves to its new complex in Ashburn, Va.

The key to the settlement is that both sides agree on one thing: The Redskins' offer is worth more in overall value than the contract signed by Sean Gilbert, drafted third by the Los Angeles Rams.

Gilbert got $7.5 million for five years, an average of $1.5 million a year.

The Redskins are offering Howard $5.9 million for four years, an average of $1.475 million.

Owner Jack Kent Cooke has been adamant that he won't match the $1.5 million average that Gilbert got because Howard was drafted fourth.

The Redskins still say their deal is worth more because it includes incentive clauses -- Gilbert's doesn't -- and is for four years while Gilbert's is for five years.

Steinberg agrees the Howard offer is worth more than the Gilbert HTC deal.

"There's no question about that," Steinberg said.

Up to this point, though, he has refused to drop his average demand below $1.5 million.

But it now appears Steinberg is close to accepting the Redskins' offer.

In that event, both sides will be able to claim victory. Cooke can say he didn't match the $1.5 million Gilbert figure and Steinberg can boast that Howard's deal is worth more because it's shorter and has an incentive package.

Though they appear on the verge of a deal with Howard, the Redskins are still far apart with offensive lineman Jim Lachey and cornerback Darrell Green.

Jeff Moorad, Steinberg's partner and Lachey's agent, also met with Casserly yesterday, but the two sides don't even agree on the length of the contract.

Lachey wants a two-year deal because he feels free agency is coming to the NFL and will boost salaries quickly in the future.

The Redskins want him signed for at least three years.

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