NFL: Redskins cut 10 veterans on eve of free agency
By JOSEPH WHITE
AP Sports Writer
ASHBURN, Va. — Guard Randy Thomas, receiver Antwaan Randle El and kick returner Rock Cartwright were among 10 players cut by the Washington Redskins on the eve of free agency.
Cornerback Fred Smoot, defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin, running back Ladell Betts and backup quarterback Todd Collins were also released Thursday night as the Redskins cleared salary cap space in the first major moves under the new brain trust of general manager Bruce Allen and coach Mike Shanahan.
“Obviously, it’s a day of change for the Redskins,” Allen said.
The next big moves were expected to be put in motion at the midnight start of free agency, when the Redskins were again expected to be aggressive on the open market. Big-spending owner Dan Snyder has yielded roster control to Shanahan, but the coach and Allen have many needs to fill as they take over a 4-12 season and look ahead to a season with no salary cap.
“We’re going to be active on the phones tonight,” Allen said.
There are also players Shanahan and Allen want to keep. One pending free agent, center Casey Rabach, said he was close to a deal to re-sign with the team.
The Redskins also tendered several players, making them restricted free agents. Quarterback Jason Campbell and cornerback Carlos Rogers both were given first-round tenders, severely limiting their chances of being courted by other teams. The Redskins have the right to match any offer they receive and can demand a first-round draft pick as compensation.
Linebacker Rocky McIntosh, safety Reed Doughty, defensive tackle Kedric Golston, tackle Stephon Heyer and linebacker Chris Wilson were given second-round tenders. Defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery has a fifth-round tender, center Will Montgomery got a seventh-round tender, and defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander was tendered but would require no compensation to sign.
The Redskins need to get younger after a 4-12 season, and Thursday’s moves point the team in that direction. Seven of the released players are at least 30 years old. Also, 32-year-old left tackle Chris Samuels announced his expected retirement due to a neck injury.
“Some of these players have been very good Redskins,” Allen said. “But our plan was for 2010 and beyond.”
Three younger backups were cut: running backs Marcus Mason and Eddie Williams and defensive lineman J.D. Skolnitsky.
None of the cuts are big surprises. Thomas has been a solid lineman and a good locker room presence, but he had major injuries in two of the last three seasons. Randle El never played up to the value of the big-money free agent deal he signed in 2006. Cartwright was a team captain, but his role on special teams was reduced last season.
Smoot’s role also diminished during the 2009 season, Betts finished the year on injured reserve, and Griffin is on the downside of his career and not an ideal fit for the team’s new 3-4 defense.