Mayhew says Redskins may have erred

Cornerback Martin Mayhew, who visited Phoenix yesterday on the first day of his four-day, four-city cross-country NFL tour, said the Washington Redskins may have made a mistake by not signing more of their free agents last season.

"It remains to be seen whether it was a mistake or not. [If] we get everybody back and everybody signed and handle the salary cap next year, then it worked out fine. But I think it would have been a good idea to try and get a few contract extensions done during the season. We have too many starters exposed. Who knows? Just having that many guys exposed is dangerous to our defense," Mayhew said.


Mayhew mentioned Tim Johnson, Danny Copeland, Kurt Gouveia, Jumpy Geathers, Fred Stokes and Andre Collins as the other key unsigned defensive players, although Collins is a restricted free agent and

the Redskins can keep him by matching his best offer. If they don't, they'll get a first-round draft pick.


"I think it's dangerous [to have so many unsigned players] because you never know what can happen. Each one of those players could receive a monster bid from somewhere. Somebody could go somewhere else and then you've got a whole bunch of gaps to fill. I think it was a dangerous tactic, but if it works out, it was a good move," Mayhew said.

The Redskins are hoping that most of their free agents will give them a chance to keep them by matching their best offers. Since the free-agent market has exploded, it will cost them more to keep them now than it would have to sign them to extensions during last season.

The Redskins didn't anticipate the free-agent market would become so expensive. Mayhew, for example, expects to make more than $1 million after earning $325,000 last year.

Mayhew said his deadline is April 1, but he may make a decision by next week.

Mayhew, who went to Tampa Bay and Atlanta last week, will go to Green Bay, Detroit and Chicago over the next three days, and then he'll start soliciting offers.

Mayhew said that Joe Gibbs' resignation as Redskins' coach won't affect his decision because he likes new coach Richie Petitbon. He said he might have been less likely to remain with the Redskins if they had brought in another coach.