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The New Faces in Washington

By Mark Solway | April 19th, 2003

The Redskins have been the busiest team in the NFL signing both unrestricted and restriced free agents – 14 of them in fact. They re-signed veteran Tre Johnson, as well as re-signing OL Wilbert Brown and Alex Sulfsted. They added Trung Canidate via a trade with the Rams. At the time of this story’s release, they had also signed restricted free agent DT Jermaine Haley as the free agency period closed. Miami have one week to match the offer or Haley will become the 4th RFA signed by the Skins and the 16th player overall.
KR/RB Chad Morton

OG Randy Thomas – 7 year $28 million contract, $7 million SB
The signing of Thomas will go a long way to fixing the problems that the Redskins had last season at guard. Young and talented are the type of guys that you want to sign to long term contracts, and Thomas is just that. He should be a Pro Bowl contender for years to come playing along side Jon Jansen. He was one of the best free agents on the market and in my opinion, stands as the Redskins most important acquisition of the offseason.

WR Laveranues Coles – 7 year $35 million contract, $13 million SB
The Fun ‘N Gun needs speed, so the Redskins went out and got some. Coles enjoyed his best season last year with the Jets pulling in 89 catches for 1,264 yards… good enough for 8th in the AFC. He will give Patrick Ramsey a solid, proven target to throw to. The signing of Coles was tenuous to say the least. As a restricted free agent, the Jets had one week to match the Redskins offer to Coles but in the end, the signing bonus proved to be too much. A good tactic by Redskins management… as long as Coles performs well for 3 or 4 years. Coupled with Rod Gardner, the 2003 receiving corps will be drastically improved. The Redskins gave up their 1st round pick in the 2003 draft as compensation.

DT Brandon Noble – 4 year $7 million contract, $1.8 million SB
The departure of Daryl Gardener will be big shoes to fill for any player. It’s always nice to grab a player from the Cowboys, and the big, young DT has a promising future. He is a wide-body and is effective against the run. He won’t have the penetration into the backfield that Gardener did though, but he may be a better compliment to MLB Jeremiah Trotter. He also provided one of the best quotes of the off-season so far; “I’m pretty tired of losing down there in Dallas. I’m ready to go.”

K John Hall – 5 year $7.13 million contract, $1.6 million SB
The Redskins needed a kicker, why not look to our good friends the New York Jets? Hall will bring stability to a position that hasn’t seen any for close to a decade. He connected on 149 of his 203 field goal attempts in his six year tenure in New York. Special teams were brutal in 2002, Hall’s strong leg and deep kickoffs will go a long way to helping out.

KR Chad Morton – 5 year $8 million contract, $2.5 million SB
Mike Stock had to be wringing his hands like mad waiting to find out if the Jets would match the Redskins offer to restricted free agent kick returner Chad Morton. They did… or so it seemed. However, the Jets failed to match a void clause in their contract offer and a month later, an arbitrator awarded Morton to the Redskins. The Redskins’ special teams instantly became better. Morton was the 2nd best kick returner in the AFC in 2002, and he is the biggest talent on ST since Brian Mitchell left. The Redskins gave up their 5th round pick in the 2003 draft as compensation.

S Matt Bowen – 4 year $6 million contract, $1.6 million SB
A restricted free agent from the Packers, Bowen was stuck at backup in Green Bay who had a wealth of talent at safety with Darren Sharper, Antuan Edwards and Marques Anderson. Bowen will be expected to start in Washington. The Redskins gave up their 6th round pick in the 2003 draft as compensation.

RB Trung Canidate – 2 year, $1.7 million contract
Somehow the Redskins talked the Rams into taking David Loverne for RB Trung Canidate. Canidate fell into Martz’ doghouse in 2002 and never got out. He brings speed and quickness, and is a good receiver out of the backfield. Obviously management feel he is a better suited RB for the Fun ‘N Gun.

DE Regan Upshaw – 5 year $7.5 million contract, $2 million SB
Upshaw spent much of last season on Oakland’s inactive list due to injury. He returned for the final 3 games of the season and played in all of the Raiders’ playoff games including the Super Bowl. Agressive, experienced, and a mean streak a mile long… he will probably share duties with Bruce Smith at right DE.

OG Dave Fiore – 4 year $8 million contract, $1.5 million SB
The Redskins picked Fiore up from the 49ers and immediately pencilled him in at left guard. They’re hoping he can recover from the season ending knee injury that he ironically suffered last season against the Redskins in the 3rd week of the season. He is a strong, intelligent player and if he rebounds from his injury, the Redskins offensive line will be formidable.

QB Rob Johnson – 2 year $2 million contract, $250,000 SB
Much maligned in his career to date, the Redskins will let the role of backup QB fall on Johnson’s shoulders this year. He has shown signs of brilliance in his career but has ultimately struggled in both Buffalo and Tampa Bay. Winning a Super Bowl ring last year should enable him to be pretty content filling the role that’s asked of him.He is an athletic quarterback, with good mobility, and will provide a diffeent look for the Redskins than Pat Ramsey does.

WR Patrick Johnson – 1 year $680,000, $150,000 SB
The speedy receiver comes from the Jaguars organization and will compete with Darnerian McCants and 2002 draft pick Cliff Rusell for the #3 and #4 receiver slots.

OG Lenny Friedman – 1 year $530,000
Adding Friedman from the Broncos was intended to provide backup for guards Thomas and Fiore. Friedman is a solid player though and his ability to play center may allow him to push Larry Moore for some playing time.

OG Tre Johnson – 1 year $655,000
The Big Banga returns. Another great backup for Thomas and Fiore. Tre always brings attitude, leadership and great run blocking skills. it’s just not right seeing big #77 in any color but burgundy and gold.

OL Alex Sulfsted – 1 year $375,000
Sulfsted was a real surprise for the Redskins last year. He was forced to start in 3 games for the Redskins in his first season with the team… two at left guard and one at left tackle for an injured Chris Samuels. He provides versatililty for a low price with his ability to backup at guard or tackle.

OL Wilbert Brown – 1 year $375,000
Walked right on to the starting lineup for 9 games last year as a Redskin, mostly at guard. Like Sulfsted, he provides versatililty for a low price with his ability to backup at guard or center.

In the weeks leading up to the regular season, we will be profiling each of the new players. Keep your eyes open !

As a result of all of the free agent signings, Washington are left with only 4 draft picks in the 2003 draft. They still have picks in the second (44th overall) and third rounds (75th overall), as well as two picks in the 7th round (208th and 214th overall). It will only be 3 picks overall, if the Dolphins fail to match the offer to Jermaine Haley and receive one of the Redskins 7th round picks as compensation. There has been a recent buzz around the possibility of the Redskins trading Fred Smoot or a pick from the 2004 draft to give Washington an extra mid-round pick at the draft. With just one week remaining before the draft, we’ll know very soon. Make sure you check out our exclusive Draft Section for all of your draft needs. We will be posting an article some time this week on exactly what WE think the Redskins will do with their draft.

Boss Hog

Edit: This blog was archived in May of 2016 from our original articles database.It was originally posted by Mark Solway

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