For Redskins draft picks, less is less


It wasn't so long ago that being drafted by the Washington jTC Redskins was a cause for celebration.

The Redskins were a high-profile team that had a reputation for paying well.

All that's changed now.

The Redskins are in a rebuilding mode, have been banished from "Monday Night Football" this season after going 4-12 last year and even are being forced to offer their draft choices less than players taken several spots later.

"It's a quirk in the system," said Alan Herman, the agent for offensive lineman Joe Patton, one of the team's two third-round picks.

The problem is the NFL's new rookie salary pool combined with the Redskins' drafting of a quarterback, Heath Shuler, with the third pick on the first round.

The Redskins are allowed to spend $2.8 million on their draft picks, but Shuler figures to get more than half of that.

The contracts signed by Drew Bledsoe with the New England Patriots and Rick Mirer of the Seattle Seahawks set the pattern last year for a quarterback near the top of the round to gobble up more than half the rookie pool.

The Redskins probably can't offer less than that and get Shuler signed. As it is, they haven't been able to work out a deal with him because they're trying to save as much money as possible for other draft picks. As a result, the rest of the draft picks are being made cut-rate offers.

For example, wide receiver Kevin Lee, the sixth player taken on the second round, by New England, signed a deal with a rookie pool number of $400,000.

The Redskins are offering offensive tackle Tre Johnson, selected four spots ahead of Lee, about $350,000, according to Johnson's agent, Lamont Smith.

And that's $20,000 less than the deal wide receiver Bert Emanuel, picked 14 spots after Johnson, signed with the Atlanta Falcons.

All this explains why the Redskins have signed only one draft choice, sixth-round selection Dexter Nottage, a defensive lineman who got $120,000, even though training camp is set to open next Wednesday.

It also helps explain why two draft picks, third-round pick Tydus Winans, a wide receiver, and fourth-round choice Kurt Haws, a tight end, skipped voluntary workouts at Redskin Park this week.

In the end, the players may be forced to take less because the Redskins won't be allowed to offer more.

"My guy [Patton] has an understanding of the landscape," Herman said. "They've got a quarterback sitting up there."

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