The Washington Redskins lopped 16 obscure players off their roster yesterday and hope to add a high-profile one today -- Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard.
Howard's agent, Leigh Steinberg, has agreed to a four-year, $5.9 million deal, but still had to complete the structure of the contract on the phone with general manager Charley Casserly last night.
If that was completed, Steinberg planned to catch a red-eye flight from San Francisco last night and arrive at Dulles International Airport this morning. He would then meet with Howard, who planned to fly in from Cleveland, before they signed the deal today.
The deal, which includes a $2.7 million signing bonus, would make him the second-highest-paid Redskin, at an average of $1.475 million a year. Quarterback Mark Rypien's new deal is tops at $3 million.
The Redskins also are hopeful that veterans Jim Lachey and Darrell Green will end their holdouts soon because training camp is over.
But Steinberg's partner, Jeff Moorad, said that during talks with Casserly yesterday, the sides agreed only that the contract will run for three years.
"Unfortunately, things have taken a slight step backwards although we're very close," Moorad said.
The sides are in the neighborhood of $1.2 million a year, but Moorad said they still need to "fine-tune the incentive package."
He added: "I'm confident with a little more discussion, we can conclude the process."
One of the side benefits of a long holdout for a veteran player is that he gets to skip the rigors of two-a-days in training camp. But if the holdout lasts long enough for a player to miss the first regular-season game on Sept. 7, he misses a game check. Missing a game costs a player one-sixteenth of his salary, which is why few holdouts last until the regular season.
Green's agent, Kyle Rote, Jr., attended the funeral of his grandfather in San Antonio yesterday and was not available for comment.
Meanwhile, the Redskins made 16 roster moves yesterday to cut their roster to 65 players. They must make four more moves today to get down to 61 players.
They waived 12 players, put linebacker Ted Rogers on the injured reserve list, which means he's out for the year, and put three more -- guards Paul Sevier and Darryl Moore and wide receiver Mark Stock -- on the physically unable to perform list. That means they're eligible to return this year.
All the players who departed were free agents except for Plan B signee Steve Gabbard and Sevier and Moore, who were drafted on the third and eighth rounds. They'd already put linebacker Boone Powell, a ninth-round choice, on the waived/injured list.
The only veteran to depart so far was running back Gerald Riggs, who was waived last week. But guard Mark Adickes, who has a bugling disk in his back, may retire today.
Another draft pick, quarterback Chris Hakel, a fourth-round pick, could go on the injured-reserve list as part of the team's usual training program for quarterbacks. Rypien and Cary Conklin both spent two years on IR.
Because the league says it's cracking down on stashing players this year, the Redskins are taking more precautions than they did last year when Conklin played the final quarter of the final preseason game before they announced he had a knee injury.
Although Hakel hasn't missed any practice time, the Redskins announced last week he has pain in his shoulder and had him undergo an magnetic resonance imaging exam.
"It sort of went dead," Hakel said of his arm. "I'd never really thrown this much before. Last year, down at William and Mary, I really didn't have to throw a lot."
NOTES: The Redskins will resume practice today after having two days off. . . . The Redskins will be allowed to carry 61 players into the final preseason game instead of the normal 60 because wide receiver Joe Johnson gets an exception for playing in the World League. Howard's arrival, though, will leave him vulnerable on the final cut as the sixth wide receiver on the squad.
Redskins roster moves
Waived (12) C Kevin Brothen .. OL Tom Fuhler
Hurlie Brown .. OL Steve Gabbard
LB David Clark .. .LB Eric Gash
WR Neal Clark .. ..DL Nate Hill
P Jeff Fite .. ... WR Gary Melton
Chad Fortune .. LB Ricky Shaw
Injured reserve (1) LB Ted Rogers
Physically unable to perform (3) G Darryl Moore .. WR Mark Stock