Arrington's preference is to remain a Redskin

Player is hoping grievance over $6.5M bonus is settled

Pro Football

March 28, 2004|By Ryan O'Halloran | Ryan O'Halloran,DAILY PRESS

ASHBURN, Va. - While his agents joust with Washington Redskins management over a $6.5 million bonus, linebacker Lavar Arrington pledged his loyalty to the franchise after yesterday's minicamp practice.

"The more I think about it and the more I look around, the more I don't want to be anywhere else," Arrington said at Redskins Park. "I really love the fans, and that's the whole thing for me. For $6.5 million, it's not worth my relationship with the fans. I don't want that to be the legacy I leave behind."

Arrington filed a grievance March 12, arguing his $68 million contract extension signed in December left out the $6.5 million bonus he says should be due him if he is still a Redskin in 2006. An arbitrator will hear the case on an undetermined date.

"I don't see this being beneficial by it being dragged out. Just get it done," Arrington said. "I'm ready to reconcile whatever differences there are and, hopefully, get things back on the straight and narrow."

At the same time, Arrington stood his ground, expressing little regret in taking the Redskins to task.

"I've been sitting around thinking about it a lot and wondering how to go about things," he said. "But I'm a real protective person, and when things are being done like that, I'm going to be the guy that steps up and says something."

Arrington, who, with linebacker Kevin Mitchell, is the most senior member of the Redskins' defense, isn't letting the matter affect his on-field attitude.

"With the contract thing right now, my whole frame of mind is that it's going to arbitration, and I'm letting my lawyers handle it and [the Redskins] are letting their lawyers handle it," he said.

Arrington, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, has been shifted to weak-side linebacker by assistant head coach for defense Gregg Williams.

"Playing the weak side, you have to be able to run and move around, so I like the opportunity to use my speed," said Arrington, who has 414 tackles in 62 games.

Williams said the goal is to use Arrington's strengths.

"It's really not a position change," he said. "We're going to try to play a package that gets our three fastest linebackers on the field. A lot of times in this league, you hear about situational linebackers, guys who play one or two downs. We want our linebackers to play all three downs. LaVar will play stand-up [outside] linebacker, rush end and some middle linebacker."

During yesterday's nine-on-nine drills, Arrington, who has 21 1/2 sacks, lined up in a three-point stance to rush the passer.

After two days under Williams and coach Joe Gibbs, Arrington was impressed by the intensity of practice.

"You can tell by the way my shirt looks," he said of his sweat-drenched Penn State T-shirt. "We've done more running the first two days than we did the entire first camp last year. The atmosphere, the pace - we're almost at game speed right now, and it's the second day."

NOTE: The Redskins matched the New Orleans Saints' four-year, $4.3 million offer sheet to restricted free-agent fullback Bryan Johnson. Gibbs, however, said Johnson's status had not been resolved, leaving the possibility open for a trade. Johnson has not attended the minicamp.

The Daily Press of Newport News, Va., is a Tribune Publishing newspaper. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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