The Washington Redskins continued their transition to a new era yesterday when free agent Ethan Horton agreed to terms, center Jeff Bostic retired and guard Mark Schlereth was put on the trading block.
Horton, a tight end with the Los Angeles Raiders, became the second free agent the Redskins have acquired this week when he agreed to a two-year, $2.5 million deal. The Redskins signed linebacker Ken Harvey of the Phoenix Cardinals to a four-year, $11 million deal Tuesday.
Horton will be penciled into the starting lineup as the lone tight end in the two-back offense coach Norv Turner used in Dallas, as they move away from the two-tight end offense that was Joe Gibbs' trademark in
"In the Dallas-type system, this guy [Horton] takes the Jay Novacek spot," general manager Charley Casserly said.
Horton, 31, who was a bust as a running back after being drafted on the first round in 1985 by the Kansas City Chiefs, made it as a tight end with the Raiders and had a Pro Bowl season in 1991, when he caught 53 passes.
He dipped to 33 receptions in 1992 and 43 last season, but the Redskins expect him to be more productive in the Turner offense, which features the tight end, although Horton had some problems dropping balls last year.
To make room for Horton's salary, the Redskins planned to put offensive lineman Jeff Bostic and his $850,000 salary on waivers. But Bostic decided to end his 14-year career and retire. The Redskins will make the announcement at a news conference today.
Bostic's departure will leave Joe Jacoby, who's also expected to retire during the off-season, as the last of the original Hogs.
Bostic had mixed feelings about the decision.
"I don't know if you can ever really be prepared for how you feel when you give up something that's been such a big part of your life," Bostic said.
Bostic was tied with wide receiver Art Monk for second place in seniority on the team. Only linebacker Monte Coleman has more seniority. The Redskins have decided to invite Monk and Coleman back.
But the Redskins have decided to save another $850,000 by trying to trade Schlereth, who's been bothered by injuries the past two seasons. The Redskins are willing to take a low-round pick for him, but his injury problems may have cut his market value.
OC If the Redskins can sign free-agent center John Gesek of the Co
wboys, they'll switch Raleigh McKenzie to Schlereth's guard spot. Their other alternative is signing guard Ian Beckles of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to play Schlereth's spot.
Besides getting an offensive lineman, the Redskins' priorities in the free-agent market are a defensive lineman (Reuben Davis of the Phoenix Cardinals visited yesterday, Brent Williams of the New England Patriots will be in today and Jon Hand of the Indianapolis Colts was in last week), a wide receiver and a fullback.
The wide receiver candidates are Michael Timpson of the New England Patriots and Haywood Jeffires of the Houston Oilers. The fullback candidates are Daryl Johnston of the Cowboys and the Cardinals' Larry Centers, who visited yesterday.
Casserly said that, under the salary cap, the Redskins can't afford an expensive free agent in both lines plus a fullback and a wide receiver.
Long snapper Trevor Matich of the Patriots is scheduled to meet with Redskins officials tomorrow.
The Redskins made one other move yesterday, signing running back Tico Duckett, who was on their practice squad last season.
Next week, the coaching staff will inspect the workouts of potential draftee quarterbacks Heath Shuler and Trent Dilfer, and the NFL meetings will be held the week after.
Career statistics of tight end Ethan Horton, who was signed by the Washington Redskins today:
Yr .. . .. ..Team.. .. .. ..Rec.. .. ..Yds.. .. .. TDs
'85 .. .. .. Chiefs .. .. ..28 .. .. ..185 .. .. .. 1
'87 .. .. .. Raiders .. .. 3 .. .. .. 44 .. .. .. ..1
'89 .. .. .. Raiders .. .. 4 .. .. .. 44 .. .. .. ..1
'90 .. .. .. Raiders .. .. 33 .. .. .. 404 .. .. .. 3
'91 .. .. .. Raiders .. .. 53 .. .. .. 650 .. .. .. 5
'92 .. .. .. Raiders .. .. 33 .. .. .. 409 .. .. .. 2
'93 .. .. .. Raiders .. .. 43 .. .. .. 467 .. .. .. 1
Tot .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..197 .. .. ..2203 .. .. ..14