Saturday, March 15, 2003

League looking into offer to Coles

NFL notebook: Redskins may have waited too long to notify NFL of move

The Associated Press

NEW YORK - The NFL is investigating the Washington Redskins' offer sheet to New York Jets wide receiver Laveranues Coles, intensifying the competition for free agents between the teams.

Two football sources, both of whom requested anonymity, said the NFL is looking into whether the Redskins broke the rules by failing to promptly notify the league after reaching an agreement with Coles. On Wednesday, he signed an offer sheet that would pay him $35 million over seven years, including a $13 million signing bonus.

"We're happy to have the NFL look into it," Redskins spokesman Karl Swanson said. "There is nothing improper."

The NFL and the Jets refused comment on the investigation, first reported by

The Jets have until 4 p.m. Wednesday to match the Redskins' offer. If the they don't, they will receive Washington's first-round pick in the April draft, No. 13 overall.

The investigation centers on a rule that requires the league to be notified as soon as an agreement is reached. In this case, Coles, a restricted free agent, agreed to the deal with Washington owner Dan Snyder on Sunday night.

The Jets contend that by agreeing to the deal several days before signing the offer sheet, the Redskins violated league rules by essentially taking Coles off the market before the deal officially had been concluded.

Swanson said the Redskins and Coles' agent, Roosevelt Barnes, might have agreed to contract parameters Sunday, but no deal was in place until Coles took a physical on Tuesday.

If the league finds in favor of the Jets, Washington could be fined or penalized with the loss of draft choices.

EAGLES: Linebacker Nate Wayne signed a four-year contract with Philadelphia after being released by Green Bay Monday. The four-year deal is worth about $13 million, including a $4 million signing bonus, according to a person close to the negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Wayne led the Packers with 132 tackles last season and also had 2 1/2 sacks and three interceptions.

BROWNS: Free agent linebacker Barry Gardner signed a two-year, $1.6 million contract with Cleveland. He played the past four seasons with Philadelphia and starred on special teams, totaling 38 tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery.

BUCCANEERS: Quarterback Shane Matthews signed a one-year contract with Tampa Bay. He spent last season with Washington and set a career-high with 11 touchdown passes, starting eight games.

STEELERS: Charlie Batch has agreed to remain with Pittsburgh as a backup quarterback. Terms were not disclosed.

LIONS: Detroit re-signed linebacker Brian Williams, who was sidelined after breaking his left leg Sept. 22, to a one-year contract.

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