PALM DESERT, Calif. -- The Washington Redskins Goodbye Club now has four members.
Defensive lineman Fred Stokes and cornerback Martin Mayhew yesterday became the latest free agents to tell the Redskins that they're leaving. The Redskins previously had lost defensive end Jumpy Geathers and wide receiver Gary Clark.
Stokes, 29, reportedly got a three-year, $4 million deal with the Los Angeles Rams -- the team he left as a Plan B free agent to sign with the Redskins in 1989.
Last year, Stokes had 48 tackles, 3 1/2 sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 16 games, 10 of them starts. He made $340,000 with a $15,000 roster bonus.
Phil Williams, Mayhew's agent, told Redskins general manager Charley Casserly that he's leaving for three-year deal averaging $1.45 million a year. Williams said Mayhew, who made $325,000 last year with a $35,000 roster bonus, still was deciding between offers from the Phoenix Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Neither Phoenix nor Tampa would confirm yesterday that Mayhew has agreed to terms. Williams' wife said he was at a religious retreat and not available for comment. But Casserly is taking it for granted Mayhew is gone.
Asked why the Redskins decided not to match the offers for Stokes or Mayhew, Casserly said, "The way this market has exploded, we're going to have to lose guys. People are throwing around huge signing bonuses, which on paper is guaranteed money for the future."
Stokes got a $1.5 million signing bonus and Mayhew reportedly got $1.2 million. Since signing bonuses must be prorated over the length of the contract for salary cap accounting purposes, the Redskins would have had to write off $1 million under the cap in 1994 and 1995 for Stokes and $800,000 for Mayhew even if both players were injured and couldn't play.
Casserly said he thinks the Redskins can survive the loss of all four players. Geathers was a backup and Stokes lost his starting job at the end of last season to Shane Collins. Clark will be replaced by Desmond Howard. And the return of Darrell Green, who missed most of last season with injuries, will offset the loss of Mayhew. A. J. Johnson will start in Mayhew's place.
Still, Geathers and Stokes were two of the team's best rushers on passing downs and will be missed. Their loss could be offset if the Redskins sign defensive end Reggie White.
White is talking to the San Francisco 49ers, who are not allowed to offer more than $14.6 million for four years with no more than $2.7 million in the first year.
The Redskins feel they could match those figures and give more money the first year.