Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Bailey drawing interest

Keyshawn may be Dallas-bound

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The Washington Redskins are pondering several trade possibilities for four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey in addition to the much balleyhooed proposal to send him to Denver for Clinton Portis.

The Redskins remain in contact with the Broncos. But director of player personnel Vinny Cerrato said Tuesday he also is talking to other teams concerning Bailey.

No deal can take place officially until the offseason trade and free agency period begins March 3, although an agreement can be announced before then.

"It'll probably happen right before the start of free agency," Cerrato said.

• Bruce Smith, the NFL's career sack leader, was cut along with Jessie Armstead and two other veterans in moves to help the Redskins team get under the $80.6 million salary cap.

Smith's release was expected. The 40-year-old defensive end had indicated he would retire after passing Reggie White for the all-time sack record in December.

The release of Armstead will have the biggest on-field impact.

The five-time Pro Bowl linebacker signed a three-year, $4.5 million contract two years ago after nine seasons with the New York Giants. Armstead, 33, had 9 1/2 sacks and 216 tackles in two seasons with Washington and provided veteran locker room leadership.

BUCS: The Bucs, who figured to release Keyshawn Johnson and get nothing for their former No. 1 receiver, instead could wind up trading him for Cowboys speedster Joey Galloway.

"My agent has gotten permission to talk to Dallas. That's all I know," Johnson told the Orlando Sentinel Tuesday. "It's all speculative at this point."

BRONCOS: Three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Al Wilson agreed to a seven-year, $42 million contract.

The deal also includes a signing bonus in excess of $10 million.

The agreement also could clear the way for the Broncos to continue negotiations with the Washington Redskins on a proposed trade of running back Portis to the Redskins for cornerback Bailey. Because of salary cap concerns, Denver had hoped to finalize Wilson's contract before dealing with the Redskins.

CAP FIGURE: The salary cap for the NFL for next season will be nearly $80.6 million, a $5.6 million increase from last season.

The league announced the figure Tuesday for the free agent period that begins on March 3.

TITANS: Defensive end Jevon Kearse will not be tagged as a franchise player, a move that could allow him to leave as a free agent after March 3. "We would still like to have him as part of this team, just not under the 'franchise tag' parameters," general manager Floyd Reese said.

JAGUARS: Strong safety Donovin Darius is their franchise player for the second straight year.

PACKERS: Left tackle Chad Clifton was designated as the team's franchise player after negotiations on a long-term contract stalled.

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