Redskins sign Saints DL Martin Use White savings in $10M offer sheet

April 08, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

The Washington Redskins hope to get two for the price of one.

Less than 24 hours after passing on the $4 million-a-year price tag for Reggie White, the Redskins started trying to spend the money they saved.

They signed defensive lineman Wayne Martin of the New Orleans Saints to an offer sheet for $10.1 million for four years, an average of $2.52 million a year.

The Saints have seven days to match the offer for the restricted free agent. If they don't, they'd get a first-round pick from the Redskins.

Even if the Redskins get Martin, they'd have nearly $6 million left to spend that it would have cost to buy White.

As a result, they're busy looking at other players who could help them.

They had linebacker Rick Graf at Redskin Park for a visit yesterday and will play host to defensive end Al Noga of the Minnesota Vikings today. They're also attempting to trade for Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Kevin Ross.

The Chiefs are asking for a second- and a third-round pick for Ross, a price the Redskins think is too high since he'll become a free agent next year. The Redskins are hoping the Chiefs will drop the price rather than lose Ross without compensation next year.

In any case, the Redskins had no regrets about refusing to pay $16 million for four years for White, which was his price to come to Washington, although he got $1 million more to go to the Green Bay Packers.

With a salary cap looming next year, the Redskins didn't feel they could go higher than $13 million for White and still have enough money to pay players at other positions to keep the team on a contending level.

"You have to look ahead to 1994," general manager Charley Casserly said in reference to the year when the cap is likely to go into effect.

"We'll have two drafts before then and we think we can fill in some spots with those choices," he said.

Besides saving money, the other advantage to signing Martin instead of White is that he's four years younger at age 27 and seems to be coming into his prime after getting 15 1/2 sacks last year.

The minus is that the Redskins will have to give up a first-round pick to get him and there's also a good chance that Saints general manager Jim Finks will match the offer that pays Martin $3.5 million, $2.45 million, $2.1 million and $2.05 million the next four years. It includes a no-trade clause.

The offer sheet topped the $2.5 million-a-year deal Pierce Holt got from the Atlanta Falcons and makes Martin the second-highest-paid defensive lineman in the league behind White.

Finks is likely to take all seven days to make a decision and he gave no clue which way he was leaning yesterday.

"We'll make the decision when we have to," he said.

Finks is noted for being a hard-liner at the bargaining table, but he matched the $1.792 million-a-year offer that the Detroit Lions made linebacker Pat Swilling last year.

Martin, who visited Redskin Park to sign the offer sheet, had been overshadowed in New Orleans by Swilling and Rickey Jackson, but said he felt the contract gave him all the recognition he needs.

"I've more or less been the quiet type. I've never been a star, but the general managers around the league knew I could play and they're the ones who are going to pay you," he said.

Casserly said he had no idea whether the Saints would match the offer.

"We took a shot," he said. "We don't know [if we're going to be successful] unless we try."

Meanwhile, the Redskins are looking at Graf as insurance at outside linebacker if Wilber Marshall is traded or holds out.

Noga would give them help in the defensive line if they don't get Martin.

The Redskins would like to get Ross for help at cornerback now that they've lost Martin Mayhew, but they won't make the deal unless the Chiefs lower their demands.

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