PALM DESERT, Calif. -- Richie Petitbon is moving quickly to put his stamp on the Washington Redskins.
Just 19 days after being promoted to head coach, Petitbon said yesterday at the NFL owners' meetings that he has already told tight end Don Warren and quarterback Jeff Rutledge their Redskins days are over and that he plans to tell Art Monk that he fTC can expect to be the team's No. 3 receiver.
Petitbon also remained upbeat about the team's future even though the Redskins suffered a setback in the free agent market for the second straight day.
The 49ers countered with an offer of $4.2 million for three years and Romanowski decided to stay with his old team for the lower amount.
"It was a tough decision, but I'm glad to stay in the Bay Area," Romanowski said.
Romanowski was the player the Redskins were figuring would replace Wilber Marshall if they were able to trade him. They now might have to re-think the decision to try to trade Marshall.
Meanwhile, the Redskins are now going after wide receiver Tim McGee of the Cincinnati Bengals. His agent, Jim Ferraro, said McGee has strong interest in the Redskins and a deal could be completed soon.
Despite their rocky start in free agency -- they've lost Clark and defensive lineman Jumpy Geathers and haven't signed a player from another team -- Petitbon said he remains confident the team will be able to cope with the new system.
"Right now, we're trying to get the lay of the land," Petitbon said. "Once we figure out which way to go, we're going to do the necessary things to make us competitive."
Petitbon said the decision to tell Warren and Rutledge that they won't be back was difficult.
"The time had come, but that's a very tough thing because both of those guys are class guys. But Donnie just couldn't stay healthy. It's tough because he meant so much to the Redskins."
Petitbon said Warren, 36, is just too "beat up" to play with any team and will retire, but said Rutledge, 36, could catch on with another team that needs a backup quarterback.
Petitbon said that "the way it stands now," Monk will be third receiver with Desmond Howard and Ricky Sanders handling the starting jobs -- the roles that Clark and Monk held the past few years.
"Desmond's going to have to go in and earn it," he said. "He's got to beat Art out or he's got to beat Sanders out."
Monk, 35, is a free agent and could leave, but at his age, there is no longer much of a market for him.
Petitbon said Mark Rypien will go in as the starting quarterback, but said the job is "wide open as can be" and "Mark knows he's got to play better at that position" to stay ahead of Cary Conklin. He said he agreed with former head coach Joe Gibbs' decision to stick with Rypien all of last year, noting the offense was crippled with injuries.
Petitbon said he hopes the Redskins won't lose any more free agents, but added, "To tell you the truth, I don't know."
Cornerback Martin Mayhew, safety Danny Copeland, defensive tackle Tim Johnson and defensive lineman Fred Stokes are among the players still talking to other clubs. But the Redskins' chances of retaining Mayhew and Copeland seem to have improved.
The Redskins have countered Tampa Bay's offer of $1.3 million a year to Mayhew with an offer of $1.2 million and hope that, like Romanowski, he'll stay for less. The Atlanta Falcons haven't decided whether to make an offer to Copeland.
NOTES: The owners passed two proposals yesterday, changing the roster limit from 47 to 53 players and chopping the time limit between plays from 45 to 40 seconds. Under the new roster limits, each team can dress 45, plus a third quarterback, of the 53 players on the roster. The change also stipulates that a player put on the injured reserve list is now out for the year. . . . The owners rejected a proposal to move the kickoff from the 35 to the 30. . . . The owners also voted to kick in $4 million to pay for half of a planned $8 million expansion of the Hall of Fame in Canton.