'We felt this was the best thing to do'

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Defensive tackle Darrell Russell was released by the Oakland Raiders on Monday, shortly after the NFL reinstated him for completing a 1½-season suspension for violating
its substance abuse policy.

He now can be claimed off waivers.

"We felt this was the best thing to do," Raiders senior
assistant Bruce Allen said. "He had some very good years here and
showed all the promise we had hoped for. But because of his
well-documented problems, we decided it was better he try to
rejuvenate his career elsewhere."

NFL spokesman Steve Alic confirmed that Russell, a two-time Pro
Bowler, was reinstated.

Coach Bill Callahan has said he had no interest in having
Russell back on the team.

Russell's annual salary is $9 million; the Raiders are still
responsible for a $l.66 million signing bonus -- already accounted
for against the salary cap, Allen said.

The Washington Post reported that the Redskins had done a
background check on Russell and were satisfied they could sign him.
The Redskins are in need of defensive tackles.

Russell's most recent suspension was his second. He also failed
a drug test and sat out the first four games of the 2001 season.
The NFL does not disclose details of substance-abuse violations.
The league's policy covers a wide range of issues, including the
illegal use of drugs and the abuse of alcohol, prescription and
over-the-counter drugs.

Russell, a former No. 2 overall selection in the NFL draft who
had 28½ sacks in five seasons with the Raiders, was eligible for
reinstatement in January. But he had the suspension extended by
three months because commissioner Paul Tagliabue wasn't satisfied
with his off-field behavior.

Last fall, prosecutors dropped rape charges against Russell,
claiming they could not prove he videotaped a woman being raped by
two of his friends in January 2002.