Redskins go to Plan B for added depth 5 of team's starters signed as free agents

August 09, 1991|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Correspondent

CARLISLE, Pa. -- The Washington Redskins aren't strong advocates of the 3-year-old Plan B free-agent system.

Coach Joe Gibbs is quick to note it's all but ruined the off-season for the coaches, because they have to spend two months recruiting players the way they did back when they were college coaches.

General manager Charley Casserly points out that it can cost a team players.

But the Redskins can't argue with the results.

When they opened the exhibition season Sunday night, five of their starters were players signed off the Plan B list.

Although defensive lineman Fred Stokes figures to give way to Charles Mann now that Mann is recovering from knee surgery, the other four -- linebacker Matt Millen, cornerback Martin Mayhew, safety Brad Edwards (who'll miss tomorrow night's exhibition game with minor knee injury, but will be replaced by another Plan B player, Terry Hoage) and tight end Ron Middleton -- figure to start the regular season.

Of the 31 Plan B players -- those left off the protected list of other NFL teams -- the Redskins have signed the past three seasons, 16 of them are still on their 77-man roster, and the majority figure to make the team.

"It's [Plan B] one of those things you're not fired up about, but whether or not you like a situation, you've got to make the best of it," Casserly said.

"I've liked Plan B as far as what we've got off it," Gibbs said. "We've got some good players from it."

The Redskins have invested $2,385,000 in signing bonuses for the 31 players, and Casserly credits owner Jack Kent Cooke for being willing to spend money for the players. But they've been virtually a bargain contrasted with the $6 million investment the Redskins made three years ago in linebacker Wilber Marshall -- who's been solid, but not the dominating force he was with the Chicago Bears.

The Redskins have lost 21 players on Plan B to other clubs, but none was considered a critical loss.

Two of last year's defensive starters, safety Todd Bowles and middle linebacker Greg Mansky, departed via Plan B, but the Redskins wanted to phase both out of the starting lineup, anyway.

The Redskins have made some mistakes on Plan B, notably giving a $100,000 signing bonus to New York Jets linebacker Kevin McArthur, who was a bust.

The Plan B signings also have enabled them to overcome some misfirings in the draft.

The Redskins have five starters from Plan B, but the past four drafts have yielded only three starters -- linebacker Andre Collins, offensive guard Mark Schlereth and place-kicker Chip Lohmiller.

The Redskins signed just four Plan B free agents this spring because Casserly said the team already had more depth due to the signings of the previous two years.

But three of those players -- Millen, Hoage and running back John Settle (if he overcomes a rib injury) -- are certain to make the team, and the fourth (safety Danny Copeland) is battling Clarence Vaughn for a backup safety slot.

One of the first things Casserly did when he became general manager two years ago was beef up the team's scouting of other teams to help the team make good Plan B decisions.

Kirk Mee does it on a full-time basis, and Joe Mack and Chuck Banker spend half of their time on it and the other half on college scouting.

"They get the credit for picking the right players," Casserly said.

NOTES: Playboy magazine jumped on the Redskins' bandwagon, picking them to go to the Super Bowl. "I don't see how anybody can pick us," Gibbs said. "It doesn't make any sense.". . . . Rookie RB Ricky Ervins has a bruised thigh, but the Redskins hope he can play in tomorrow's exhibition game at New England. . . . OG Joe Jacoby (muscle spasms), S Edwards (knee) and RB Settle (ribs) will sit out the game. . . . Raleigh McKenzie will start for Jacoby. . . . DE Mann will get his first action of the preseason. . . . The Redskins are having the Carlisle Fire Department pump 5,000 gallons of water a night from the Dickinson College swimming pool onto their parched fields because of the water ban. The pool holds 244,000 gallons of water, and they'll stop when it goes down six inches.

Redskins' Plan B signings

. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 1989 Player .. .. .. .. Position .. .. .. Signing bonus .. .. .. Status

BRay Brown .. .. .. ..OL .. .. .. .. .. $85,000 .. .. .. .. backup

Ellis Dillahunt .. ..DB .. .. .. .. .. $75,000 .. .. .. .. waived

Onzy Elam .. .. .. ..LB .. .. .. .. .. $40,000 .. .. .. .. waived

Donald Graham .. .. .LB .. .. .. .. .. $35,000 .. .. .. .. waived

Stephen Hobbs .. .. .WR .. .. .. .. .. $30,000 .. .. .. .. backup

Greg Horne .. .. .. .P .. .. .. .. .. $35,000 .. .. .. ... waived

Chris Mandeville .. .DB .. .. .. .. .. $15,000 .. .. .. .. waived

Curtis Maxey .. .. ..DL .. .. .. .. .. $50,000 .. .. .. .. waived

Martin Mayhew .. .. .CB .. .. .. .. .. .$65,000 .. .. .. . starter

Mike Morris .. .. .. OL .. .. .. .. .. $35,000 .. .. .. .. waived

Eugene Profit .. .. CB .. .. .. .. .. $35,000 .. .. .. .. .waived

Fred Stokes .. .. .. DL .. .. .. .. .. $125,000 .. .. .. ..starter

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