Rebuilding Redskins cap off the Rypien era

April 14, 1994|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Writer

The House that Joe Gibbs Built is being dismantled by the Washington Redskins.

Just 27 months after he was named the Super Bowl MVP, quarterback Mark Rypien became the latest victim of the salary cap and new coach Norv Turner's rebuilding program when he was released by the Redskins yesterday after he refused to take a $2 million pay cut.

Rypien, 31, who had one year at $3 million left on his contract, is now free to make a deal with another team while the Redskins will draft a rookie to replace him in 10 days and sign a veteran backup. John Friesz of the San Diego Chargers is the leading candidate.

BTC "Ryp wanted the ability to go into the free-agent market and talk to other teams," general manager Charley Casserly said in explaining the decision to release him.

Rypien is just the latest in a long line of veterans to depart the team that went to four Super Bowls and won three of them under Gibbs.

Of the 11 offensive starters in the Redskins' 37-20 victory over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI on Jan. 26, 1992, only four -- Jim Lachey, Raleigh McKenzie, Ron Middleton and Mark Schlereth -- are still under contract with the team.

Gibbs, who quit 13 months ago, and most of his assistants have left.

Rypien wasn't the only veteran to depart yesterday. The Redskins announced the signing of Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Henry Ellard to a two-year deal at $1.8 million, which means that Ricky Sanders -- the last surviving member of the Posse -- won't be back this year.

Sanders is a free agent who visited the Atlanta Falcons on Monday. Art Monk left the team last week when he turned down a pay cut from $1.15 million to $600,000.

In Super Bowl XXVI, the three members of the Posse -- Gary Clark, who left for the Arizona Cardinals last year, Monk and Sanders --combined for 15 of Rypien's 18 completions.

Going into this season, the two starters at wide receiver will be Desmond Howard and Ellard and the starting quarterback will be the rookie the Redskins draft April 24.

There had been speculation the Redskins would wait until after they selected a quarterback in the draft, but Casserly said yesterday, "We're confident we're going to get a quarterback."

Since the Cincinnati Bengals are expected to take Ohio State defensive lineman Dan Wilkinson and the Indianapolis Colts are leaning toward San Diego State running back Marshall Faulk with the second choice, the Redskins are likely to take Heath Shuler of Tennessee with the third pick. If Shuler is gone, they'll take Trent Dilfer of Fresno State.

Even though the league increased the salary cap figure from $34.2 to $34.6 million yesterday, the Redskins couldn't afford Rypien at his old salary as a backup to the rookie Turner plans to groom.

They have slotted about $1 million for that position and Casserly said they'll immediately start negotiating with several backups, including the three quarterbacks who've visited Redskin Park recently -- Friesz, Detroit's Rodney Peete and Chris Chandler of the Cardinals.

Casserly said that if Rypien changes his mind before they sign another veteran quarterback, "The door is still open." But Rypien, who didn't return his messages, wants to find a new home. Teams he's likely to talk to include the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs and New York Giants. In Cleveland, former Redskins offensive coordinator Rod Dowhower is now the quarterback coach.

Rypien met with Turner on Monday and was told he could come back only if he took the pay cut.

Rypien said last weekend at minicamp that he'd be willing to discuss a pay cut, but he didn't want to take a $2 million cut, as he was asked to.

A source said that Rypien was upset that the Redskins waited so long to release him and now most teams already have decided on their starterfor next season. He wanted to get released earlier so he'd have more time to find a new team.

After a 38-3 loss in Dallas last December, Rypien predicted he wouldn't be back and suggested that owner Jack Kent Cooke was dictating personnel decisions for coach Richie Petitbon, who was fired at the end of the season.

Rypien slumped after his Super Bowl season. He was slowed by a long holdout in 1992 and by a knee injury in the second game of last season. He then tried to come back too soon and was ineffective.

Rypien also said at the time, "I obviously feel I have a lot of football left. I'd like to say when I'm healthy, I can perform."

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