Kicking It Off With a Bang
By: Mark Solway 
Posted: 2004-03-04
Category: Washington Redskins News
The first day of the NFL league year was busy yet again for the Washington Redskins this year. With many holes to fill and positions to re-vamp under new coach Joe Gibbs, the Redskins attacked the free agent market with the same tenacity that they did in 2003.

Two of the most already-completed-but-not-yet-official trades in the history of the NFL became official yesterday. The Champ Bailey Redskins era is over. The cornerback left for greener pastures in Denver -- 63 million of them in the next 7 years, including a whopping guaranteed 27 million in the first 3 seasons. The Redskins also sent Denver the second round pick in the 2004 draft, some say unnecessarily, to acquire stud running back Clinton Portis. While much ado has been made about the pick, there is no doubting that the Broncos gave up a phenomenal player. Portis had over 1500 yards in 13 games last year and had 15 touchdowns... he instantly gives Gibbs and Joe Bugel a running game to start building around.

Another vital part of the Redskins' offense may be the other finally finalized deal from yesterday, Mark Brunell. Brunell comes from Jacksonville in exchange for the Redskins 3rd-round pick in the draft and penned a back-loaded 7 year $43 million contract. He was introduced to the media Wednesday at a 4pm press conference and presented himself in a very professional, very mature, very confident manner. He addressed the competition with Patrick Ramsey with dignity and said that the two had spoken for the first time that morning. There is a transcript of the press conference in the message boards.

But those acquisitions were old news; the Redskins couldn't stop there.

The first move to address a big defensive need was to sign former Giant defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin. Griffin was a teammate of Chris Samuels at Alabama and brings youth and big potential to the Redskins defensive line. Griffin received an $8 million signing bonus in a 6-year $25.5 million contract but he will immediately help the Redskins stop the run. Though unheralded, he has played beside Michael Strahan and played a big part in allowing Strahan to have the phenomenal seasons that he has put together. Washington beat out the Chicago Bears, the Houston Texans, and the New Orleans Saints for Griffin's services.

The Redskins also tentatively agreed to another 6-year deal with another big defensive need yesterday - cornerback. Pending a physical Thursday, 7-year veteran Shawn Springs (Seattle) will take over the duties formerly held by Champ Bailey. Springs deal included a $10 million signing bonus and totaled approximately $30 million.

Perhaps the least publicized move of the day actually solidified the Redskins offensive line and therefore is obviously important totheHogs.net. Lennie Friedman was re-signed to compete for the starting center job that he took over last year, and instead of another one year league minimum deal, the Redskins got themselves a potential bargain starter with a 3-year $2.6 million contract to Friedman. His excellent play last year and reasonable cap number could mean that Larry Moore may become a cap casualty. Friedman started 8 games in relief of Moore in 2003.

Walter Rasby was also brought in on Redskin One on Wednesday and will likely be signed Thursday.

Thehogs.net made it's first appearance on the Pro Football Central Live radio show last night to talk about all of the free agent action. If you missed it, you can listen to the stream archive right here.
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