Redskins looking for cap relief

For a man who is accustomed to getting his way, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder is in a slump of sorts, with a second key veteran on his roster having rebuffed attempts at a contract extension that would have provided the franchise much-needed salary cap relief for 2004 and beyond.

League sources told ESPN.com that linebacker LaVar Arrington, the player chosen second overall in the 2000 draft and a two-time Pro Bowl selection, recently rejected a new contract offer. The proposal was for seven years at more than $50 million, and it reportedly included a signing bonus of $13 million to $15 million.

It is not yet certain if talks will continue or if the extension will be revisited.

Redskins vice president Vinny Cerrato said Thursday evening that the parameters of the contract were incorrect and denied Arrington has rejected the offer.

Early in the season, Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency after this season, turned down a nine-year offer worth about $55 million and including a two-tiered signing bonus that totaled roughly $13 million. Assuming the two sides cannot reach an accord, the Redskins will almost certainly use a "franchise" marker on Bailey to limit his offseason mobility.

Reworking Arrington's contract, and perhaps that of left offensive tackle Chris Samuels are key to the Redskins because those players account for such unwieldy salary cap charges in coming seasons. Both players already have redone their original rookie contracts, including this season, to help Washington gain cap relief. Neither, however, seems to be as accommodating this time around.

Arrington, 25, is scheduled to earn a base salary of $6.36 million in 2004. He's also due a roster bonus of $1.5 million next spring, for a total cap charge of $10.672 million. It rises to $10.869 million in 2005 and to $12.013 million in 2006.

While his play in 2003 hasn't been quite up to the level of the past two years, Arrington is still regarded as a premier defender and could earn a third Pro Bowl berth.

Samuels also has struggled at times this season because of injuries and a pass-blocking scheme that has come under fire, but he remains a significant core player. He was taken one spot below Arrington in the 2000 draft, when the 'Skins had two of the top three picks overall. As is the case with Arrington, his contract runs through the '06 campaign.

Team officials huddled earlier this week, at the league meeting in Dallas, with the agent for Samuels, but there was no progress in those discussions.

The cap charges for Samuels are $8.749 million in 2004, $9.642 million for 2005 and $10.3 million for 2006. His 2004 base salary is $5.132 million and he is due a $1 million roster bonus next March.

A failure to secure some degree of cap relief from Arrington and/or Samuels could stymie the Redskins' ability to upgrade the roster for 2004. The team currently has about $74.15 million to next year's cap. Teams were apprised earlier this week that the spending level for 2004 will be about $79 million to $80 million.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Click here to send Len a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.