Speedy wide receiver Santana Moss, the veteran on whom the Washington Redskins are counting to add some big-play dimension to their anemic passing attack of last season on Wednesday reached a contract extension with the club, ESPN.com has learned.
Moss was officially acquired from the New York Jets on March 9 in a swap of unhappy wide receivers, with Laveranues Coles going to the Jets, the team that originally brought him into the league. The trade had been discussed by the Redskins and Jets for two weeks before it was finally consummated, and then was delayed several more days because the two players had to pass physical examinations.
The six-year extension, negotiated by agent Drew Rosenhaus and scheduled to be signed on Thursday, is worth $31 million. But the sixth-year of the deal will void if Moss merely reaches minimum playing time levels, and so the five-year value of the add-on is $26.55 million. The deal includes $11 million in combined signing and option bonuses, paid out over two years.
The four-year veteran was entering the final season of his original NFL contract and he was scheduled to have a base salary of $540,000 for the 2005 season.
Rosenhaus and Redskins officials have been working on the extension since the trade was completed. But with the draft, and Washington having to clear salary cap space to finish the deal, it took more than a month to complete.
There was never any doubt that, once the trade was consummated, the two sides would strike an extension agreement, just as Coles did with the Jets. While negotiations dragged on, though, Moss stayed away from the Redskins' offseason training program. He will report on Wednesday evening to the team and begin participating in the workouts as early as Thursday, Rosenhaus confirmed.
"Everyone worked hard, first of all, to get the trade finished, and then to complete this (extension)," Rosenhaus said before boarding a flight back to his Miami base. "Santana is excited to be with the Redskins and, obviously, he is a player that Washington wanted in its offense. Hopefully, this contract with spark some movement with some other wide receivers in the league."
Moss, 25, was the Jets' first-round choice in the 2001 draft. The former University of Miami star, who possesses great quickness, has 151 catches for 2,416 yards and 19 touchdowns in 51 appearances.
He has been hampered at times by hamstring and knee injuries but, when healthy, is an explosive performer, as reflected in a career average of 16.0 yards per catch and one touchdown every 7.9 receptions. Of his 151 catches, 106 have resulted in first downs or touchdowns. Moss' best season came in 2003, when he posted 74 receptions for 1,105 yards and 10 scores.
The four-year veteran is also a playmaker on special teams and has averaged 11.9 yards and scored two touchdowns on 88 career punt returns.
Certainly the Washington passing game, statistically the NFL's fourth-least productive in 2004, can use a receiver of Moss' potential. The Redskins, stymied in part by an archaic design that featured a lot of "maximum" protections and only two receivers in the pattern, averaged a paltry 5.36 yards per pass play last season, and 10.96 yards per completion. Both those numbers were second-lowest in the league.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.