Friday, March 21, 2003

Smith may return to Redskins

Washington also in talks with Rocket

The Associated Press

ASHBURN, Va. - Bruce Smith talked about playing another year and Rocket Ismail moved closer to becoming a free agent signee in another busy day for the Washington Redskins.

Smith's comments were a surprise. The 39-year-old defensive end indicated in January he was leaning toward quitting, even though he is 31/2 sacks from the NFL's career record. After meeting with coach Steve Spurrier and owner Dan Snyder, Smith is leaning the other way.

Smith said he'll decide soon whether to keep playing.

The team also is in talks with Ismail, the former Dallas receiver.

The Redskins, the most active team in free agency, have spent more than $27 million in signing bonuses and have had to renegotiate several existing contracts to stay under the salary cap.

VIKINGS: Defensive end Lance Johnstone re-signed with Minnesota on Thursday after a season in which he led the team in sacks.

Johnstone, the team's most experienced lineman, was one of more than a dozen Vikings who became unrestricted free agents after the season.

JETS: New York signed Curtis Conway Thursday to a three-year deal that could pay as much as $7.5 million with a signing bonus of $1.2 million.

Conway caught 57 passes for 852 yards for San Diego last season but was released by the Chargers last month after they signed David Boston.

COWBOYS: Free agent cornerback Donald Mitchell signed a three-year deal worth about $2.6 million, including a $675,000 bonus, with Dallas on Thursday.

Mitchell played the past four seasons with the Tennessee Titans, spending most of his time as a nickelback and special teams player.

STEELERS: Linebacker Jason Gildon was told Thursday that disorderly conduct charges will be dropped if he does 60 hours of community service during the next three months.

Gildon and two companions were arrested after refusing to leave a nightclub Saturday night, police said. Gildon also was charged with defiant trespass.

BILLS: Larry Centers was released by Buffalo on Thursday in a cost-cutting move that leaves Buffalo without the NFL's all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards by a running back.

The Bills also released Eddie Robinson, a 32-year-old linebacker who appeared to lose a step last season, his first with Buffalo and 11th in the NFL.

GIANTS: Safety Omar Stoutmire signed a new contract Thursday to stay with New York.

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