Saints match Martin deal, shutting out Redskins Focus turns to draft and salary cap

April 15, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

The Washington Redskins are fast becoming a wallflower at the free-agent dance.

Noted in the past for their aggressive pursuit of players, the Redskins struck out again yesterday when the New Orleans Saints matched their four-year $10.1 million offer to defensive lineman Wayne Martin.

The Redskins, who have lost four of their own players (Gary Clark, Martin Mayhew, Jumpy Geathers and Fred Stokes) and have signed only two from other teams (Tim McGee and Rick Graf), have now failed to get three players they pursued with serious offers.

Linebacker Bill Romanowski of the San Francisco 49ers stayed with his old team even though the Redskins offered him $300,000 more to leave, and Reggie White took a better offer from the Green Bay Packers.

The Redskins, who would have given up their first-round pick if the Saints hadn't matched the offer to Martin, now will keep the first-round choice. They decided not to make an offer to restricted running back Harold Green of Cincinnati, who would have cost first- and third-round picks if the Bengals hadn't

matched an offer.

Instead, the Redskins will focus on the April 25-26 draft and will continue to pursue three other unrestricted free agents -- defensive lineman Al Noga of the Minnesota Vikings, running back Marcus Allen of the Los Angeles Raiders and linebacker Johnny Holland of the Green Bay Packers.

General manager Charley Casserly was upbeat, despite the failure to get Martin.

"The way I look at it, we didn't have Martin last year. It would have been a plus if we'd gotten him, but we've now got a first-round pick."

Casserly also said the Redskins, who balked at paying White $4 million a year, are in good shape for the 1994 salary cap.

Casserly said the Redskins were tops in the league last year with a $34 million payroll and will be forced to cut it next year to about $30 million.

"We've made progress toward the cap without hurting the football team," he said.

Although Casserly said the Redskins don't draft by position, a cornerback to place Mayhew is likely to be their top priority on the first round of the draft. They're likely to look at such corners as Tom Carter of Notre Dame, Carlton Gray of UCLA, Darrien Gordon of Stanford and Deon Figures of Colorado.

Meanwhile, Jim Finks, the Saints general manager who felt he couldn't afford to lose Martin, wasn't happy about what the Martin contract will do to his payroll.

Finks, who said he was surprised the Redskins offered Martin the second-best defensive contract in the league, said, "Charley Casserly was quoted in the paper here saying he expected us to match. My question is then, 'Why in the hell did he make that offer?' "

Casserly replied, "You never know until you try."

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