Jones signs through 2004 season

Desperate for help at offensive tackle with starter Chris Samuels likely sidelined for several weeks, the Washington Redskins have signed free agent veteran Kenyatta Jones to a contract through the 2004 season.

Financial details of the contract were not immediately available, although it is believed that Jones will receive the minimum base salary of $380,000 for 2003, prorated over the remaining five games.

Jones, 24, recently was released by the New England Patriots following an incident in which he allegedly poured scalding water over an aide of his.

The former South Florida standout, chosen by New England in the fourth round of the 2001 draft, is a promising player whose potential has been slowed somewhat by a series of knee injuries. Since his release, he has been a popular player on the workout circuit, and was arguably the top tackle available in free agency.

Several teams auditioned Jones in the wake of his release and he was on the "ready list" of most of them.

Given the injury to Samuels, who suffered a strained knee ligament in Sunday loss at Miami, there is a chance Jones could line up for the Redskins very quickly. Washington is thin at tackle and, after Samuels left the game against the Dolphins, he was replaced by the little-used Brandon Winey.

Washington officials thought enough of Jones to make sure he agreed to a deal that tied him to the Redskins beyond just the final five games of 2003. Although he has mostly lined up at tackle, the Redskins' starters are set there for 2004, with Samuels and Jon Jansen signed to long-term contracts. That means Washington could consider Jones as a candidate to start at left guard -- its one line position that could need upgraded.

In two-plus seasons in New England, Jones appeared in 18 games, starting 11 of them. He underwent surgery on both knees this spring, opened the year on the physically unable to perform list, then subsequently was released.