ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins never saw a roster system they couldn't find a way to manipulate.
They were up to their old tricks in a new system yesterday when they released seven players on the so-called final cut-down. All seven will be back with the team.
Six of the seven veterans -- center Guy Bingham, defensive tackle Jason Buck, punter Kelly Goodburn, tight end Terry Orr, cornerback Johnny Thomas and defensive tackle Eric Williams -- will be signed again today when the Redskins increase their regular-season roster from 47 to 53 players. The seventh, safety Todd Bowles, will be back next week after sitting out one game.
Under the new rules, those veterans became free agents when they were released because they have more than four years of experience and can't be claimed by other teams, although they're free to sign with another club. All seven players, though, told the Redskins they wouldn't leave.
By cutting the veterans, the Redskins were able to protect younger players, such as wide receiver Mark Stock and defensive back Pat Eilers, who could have been claimed on waivers by other teams.
This is the second straight year they've cut Goodburn and then resigned him. But when they did it last year, other teams could have claimed him on waivers. None did.
This year, two experienced punters, Reggie Roby of the Miami Dolphins and Mike Horan of the Denver Broncos, were released, but the Redskins apparently are going to stick with Goodburn at least for one game.
If Goodburn, who beat out rookie Ed Bunn, doesn't get off to a good start, he could be in trouble.
The Redskins also cut six players who will go on the waiver wire and can be claimed today by other teams. Three of them are young players -- wide receiver Gregory Clifton, defensive back Darryl Morrison and tight end Ray Rowe -- and they are candidates for the practice squad if they're not claimed.
The Redskins can add a total of five rookies -- or players who haven't collected six regular-season paychecks -- to the practice squad.
The other three players waived -- linebacker John Brantley, running back Robert Green and guard Paul Siever -- won't be back unless the Redskins have injury problems.
One of the reasons the NFL changed its old roster system is that teams used to complain about the Redskins' stashing players on the injured reserve list and bringing them back during the season.
That loophole was closed because players who are put on the IR list are now out for the year.
In return, teams will be allowed to have a 53-man active roster with 45 players -- plus a third quarterback -- allowed to dress each week.
The Redskins actually like this new system better.
"It gives you a lot more flexibility," coach Richie Petitbon said.
General manager Charley Casserly said he figured most teams would find six veterans they could cut and bring back. The trick was to find six players who wouldn't be offered more money to leave.
For example, Williams was a free agent this year who didn't get an offer to top the $1,085,000 the Redskins paid him.
"I'm making over $1 million this year. Where do you go from there? How many teams have got that much left over anyway? The Redskins have treated me right so I'm doing to do them right," Williams said.
The only real problem for the veterans was explaining to relatives that the announcement they were cut doesn't mean they're unemployed.
"My wife is in a spa in Utah for a week. It's tough to explain to her because she doesn't understand the rules," Williams said.
The Redskins also tried to pick low-profile players for this role to avoid public relations problems. They didn't want to release a player of Art Monk's stature even for one day. There was enough controversy when they demoted him in the off-season.
For the three players who actually lost their jobs, it was a down day.
"I didn't think I'd be let go altogether," said Green, who made it last year as a rookie free agent. "I thought I'd be one of the guys they'd try to keep on the 53. I'm hoping somebody else will pick me. If not, I'll go back to school and get on with my life."
One veteran the Redskins are expected to consider is linebacker Pepper Johnson, who was released by the New York Giants yesterday. But Petitbon said he's an inside linebacker in a 3-4 who might not fit into their 4-3 system.
The Redskins wound up with 13 players who are new to the
team. Seven of those were draft picks.
Lamont Hollinquest said, "It's a little hard to believe that I made the Redskins as an eighth-round draft choice."
Wycheck, who'll miss the Dallas game as a precautionary move because he has a concussion, made it as a sixth-round pick out of Maryland, where he passed up his senior year because he didn't fit into the run-and-shoot offense of coach Mark Duffner.
xTC Wycheck said, "I think he [Duffner] understands why I left, but I'd like to think I'll prove the doubters wrong who said I was too small and too slow to make it."
NOTES: Wycheck and linebacker Andre Collins (knee) appear to be the only two players out of the Dallas game. . . . Petitbon said he still expects Emmitt Smith to sign with the Cowboys before the game.
C Guy Bingham
S Todd Bowles
DT Jason Buck
P Kelly Goodburn
TE Terry Orr
CB Johnny Thomas
DT Eric Williams
These players became free agents because they're four-year veterans. Six of them will re-sign today and Bowles will re-sign next week.
LB John Brantley
WR Gregory Clifton
RB Robert Green
DB Darryl Morrison
TE Ray Rowe
G Paul Siever
All six players can be claimed by another team. Rowe, Morrison and Clifton are eligible to be placed on the practice squad.
New faces on the roster
The following players were brought in during the off-season:
LB Carl Banks
DL Al Noga
WR Tim McGee
TE Jim Riggs
LB Rick Graf
@Unemployed free agent
S Pat Eilers
He played one game last year before being waived.
S Tom Carter
RB Reggie Brooks
LB Rick Hamilton
DL Sterling Palmer
TE Frank Wycheck
OL Greg Huntington
LB Lamont Hollinquest
QB Rich Gannon
Injured last year
OL Darryl Moore
WR Mark Stock