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NFL 'Skins eye Jets' Coles



Published: Thu, March 13, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Washington Redskins certainly like the Jets' roster, and they're about to sign another New York player, wide receiver Laveranues Coles.

The Redskins, who already have signed former Jets guard Randy Thomas and kicker John Hall as unrestricted free agents, also have an offer sheet pending with Jets kick returner Chad Morton. Now, they have their sights on Coles, who had a breakout 2002 season.

Coles, who said he was disappointed by the Jets' initial contract offer -- believed to include a $6 million signing bonus -- expects to receive the offer sheet from Washington today. The Jets would have one week to match it.

Financial terms

ESPN.com reported Monday that the Redskins will offer a $13 million signing bonus. The deal would cover seven years for $35 million, though the salary cap hit for 2003 would be only $2.31 million.

Coles' agents, Eugene Parker and Roosevelt Barnes, could not be reached for comment.

In signing Coles, the Redskins would be forced to give up their first-round draft pick, 13th overall, if the Jets don't match the offer sheet. While New York has enough money under the salary cap -- more than $5 million -- it also must match the offer to Morton by Thursday.

The Redskins told Morton he would get an opportunity to play running back for them, and he signed a five-year, $8 million deal, with a $2.5 million signing bonus. New York would receive a fifth-round draft pick as compensation for Morton.

Coles, called the team MVP by coach Herman Edwards, developed rapidly in his third season -- and first with Chad Pennington at quarterback. He had 89 receptions for 1,264 yards and five touchdowns, displaying skills on long passes and short ones, over the middle and on the outside.

"He has become very good," Edwards said. "Compare him to anyone. He gets the ball a whole lot, and that is important. He is a a playmaker, he shows it every time and he wants the ball. The more you think he can do things, he does."

Pennington often admitted he meshed best with Coles, who broke into the NFL the same year as Pennington (2000).

"He's an inspiration to me and he keeps getting better," Pennington said. "He never gets down, he keeps focusing on what he needs to do for us to win."

Considering the money

Coles planned to play the 2003 season under the Jets' one-year tender offer of $1.3 million, making him a free agent next year. But the kind of money the Redskins are offering is similar to what Peerless Price got from Atlanta after he was traded there by Buffalo last week.

So far in the 11 days of free agency, the Redskins have signed 10 players and traded for one. They added running back Trung Canidate in a trade with St. Louis, and added through free agency guards Thomas, Dave Fiore, Tre Johnson and Lennie Friedman; quarterback Rob Johnson; defensive end Regan Upshaw; defensive tackle Brandon Noble; and Hall.

In addition to the offer sheet to Morton, they signed Green Bay safety Matt Bowen to an offer sheet.




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