There was a report the other day that the Washington Redskins were putting talks with their own free agents on hold while they continued to pursue relief from their salary-cap penalties. But it turns out they are negotiating. Just not to great effect.
John Keim of the Washington Examiner spoke with Redskins linebacker and Pro Bowl special-teamer Lorenzo Alexander, who says he wants to return to Washington but needs the team's contract offer to be better than the first one it made.
“They offered me a deal but obviously at this point I’m not going to jump into it and sign right away,” Alexander said. “There’s a lot of stuff going on. At this point we’ll play the waiting game and be patient and see what’s the best thing to do for myself and my family. Hopefully that’s with the Redskins . I don’t expect them to outbid anybody but from what I’ve done and sacrificed and what I’ve earned on the field, obviously that’s going to bring a certain dollar amount. There will be interest from other teams. But you really know when free agency starts what your value is.
“I’m willing to take less for the Redskins, but they have to be close. They can’t be way off.”
Alexander's got big-time leverage right now coming off a Pro Bowl season, and he has big-time value to the Redskins. He's their best special-teams player, a useful reserve who can play inside linebacker or outside linebacker and one of their leaders on the field and in the locker room. He has no reason, as he says here, to jump at anyone's first offer.
But a weak first offer is the best the Redskins can do at this point, as they're projected to be about $4 million over the salary cap and have other of their own free agents they want back -- such as tight end Fred Davis, running back Darrel Young and guard Kory Lichtensteiger -- before they can go out and pursue other teams' free agents.
Obviously, as in any negotiation, the Redskins' first offer was not the best they could offer. But before they can figure out how far they can go to keep Alexander, they'll either need a positive resolution to the cap-penalty case (still unlikely) or to make some of the tough roster decisions we discussed yesterday. Once that's done, Alexander will find out just how much of a priority he is for the Redskins this offseason.