WASHINGTON -- LaVar Arrington played for five defensive coordinators in his first five years without a playoff game to show for it. He endured a lingering contract dispute with the owner. He didn't like the way the team handled his knee injury.
Then he got benched.
A three-time Pro Bowl linebacker can only take so much, even if he had pledged himself forever to the team and had moved his family to the area. Arrington severed ties with the Washington Redskins late Sunday, agreeing to forgo $4.4 million so he could become a free agent.
"Under the current situation, I don't see how it would be productive for me or for the Redskins for me to be there," Arrington said Monday. "I think it's obvious. Some people feel I'm full of drama. Some people feel the Redskins are like that. Who knows who's wrong? It just seems we got to our current position in terms of me and the Redskins. It didn't seem like a comfortable fit."
Arrington's agent, Kevin Poston, told The Associated Press that Arrington agreed to forfeit $4.4 million of $5.7 million in structured bonus payments due to him over the next two years. Arrington will receive the remaining $1.3 million on April 1, while the Redskins get some savings under the salary cap.
"You can't put a price tag on principals and values," said Arrington, who nevertheless could recoup most -- if not all -- of the money in free agency.
Arrington turned down the Redskins' offer to restructure his contract to save cap money while remaining with the team, a deal that would have only taken effect if the NFL and players' union can't agree on a new collective bargaining agreement. Otherwise, Arrington would have been a candidate to be cut after June 1 under the league's complex salary cap rules.
"It's going to be best for the Redskins. I hope it's going to be best for LaVar," coach Joe Gibbs said. "I think it gives him a chance for a fresh start."
Gibbs said the Redskins have reached provisional agreements with "11 or 12" other veterans over the past week to restructure their contracts to help slash more than $20 million under the cap if there is no new agreement. The deadline to get under the cap is the start of free agency, currently scheduled for 12:01 a.m. ET Thursday after being postponed twice.
The Redskins couldn't cut Arrington outright because it would have cost the team under the cap. He was due to count some $12 million against the cap in 2006.
Arrington was the No. 2 draft pick in 2000 out of Penn State and played in three straight Pro Bowls from 2001-03. He became the team's most popular player and signed an eight-year, $68 million contract extension near the end of the 2003 season.
Arrington's downfall began when Gibbs arrived with a new coaching staff in 2004. Arrington hurt his knee early in the season and played in only four games. In April 2005, after his second knee surgery, he criticized team officials for failing to support him during his injury. He was also in a dispute with owner Dan Snyder over a $6.5 million bonus he claimed was missing from the final version of his contract.
The contract dispute was eventually settled, but Arrington then found himself unable to get on the field. He was a marginal player in the first six games of the season last year and didn't play at all in a loss at Denver. There was sense that Arrington wasn't a good fit in assistant coach Gregg Williams' disciplined defensive schemes. He also did not mesh with linebackers coach Dale Lindsey.
"I wasn't one of their guys, and maybe that was the direction they wanted to go in," Arrington said. "I've gotten older. I'm not just a young rookie who is as moldable. Maybe that's where the difficulties came in."
Arrington eventually regained his starting job at midseason, but was not an every-down player and did not have the impact he had in years past. He finished the season without a sack.
Most telling, the defense usually played well regardless of whether Arrington was on the field.
"We wish the last two years had been smoother," Gibbs said. "We wish there had been no injuries. We wish he could have played more and played back to the standard where he wanted to be. I know he was totally frustrated by it."
The Redskins could very well see Arrington again. He said he wants to sign with an NFC East team.
"I want to come back and walk in FedEx Field once a year," he said.