The Post and Times are both reporting that Fred Smoot and his agent are in the process of negotiating a new deal for the cornerback. Certainly, the Redskins want Smoot, who is in the last year of the four-year, $2.8 million dollar deal he signed as a second-round draft pick in 2001, and Smoot, by all indications, wants to stay. He was quoted as saying:
I love D.C., man. I love the people. Nobody's got the fans we've got. Regardless of what the record is and who we're playing our fans are going to be there, and just the city, I just love the surroundings. I love everything.
I'm looking at the situation like Coach Gibbs is going to be here. When [Bailey] was leaving, it was like he didn't know who was going to be the coach. But if Coach Gibbs is going to be here and I go to another team, that's change again. I'd rather stay here.
It's not one of those battles where we're in two different places. We're on the same frequency right now. I'm sure it'll get done."
Besides Smoot’s love and the team’s desire to keep a productive player at a key position just entering his prime, there is some additional incentive to get a deal done, and soon. This Monday is the deadline for teams to count signing bonuses for extensions against 2004 base salary, according to ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli.
Now, there isn’t a ton of money at stake here. The Redskins are right up against the cap, with a million or so to spare. Still, with this team, every cap dollar counts so if the team could, say, give him a million dollar “raise” this season and take it off of the pro-rated signing bonus for the new deal. That would save enough to sign an injury replacement or two per year, not much but also not insignificant.
Pasquarelli reports that a deal is unlikely by Monday and the DC papers both seem to say that the talks have yet to heat up being the discussion stage. While neither side should rush to a deal, it would behoove both Smoot and the team to get it done sooner rather than later.
One very encouraging development is that James “Bus” Cook, Smoot’s agent, is very well grounded in reality. In reference to the six-year, $63 million contract his client’s former teammate Champ Bailey signed last spring, Bus said:
I don't know if we can get that kind of deal
For an agent these days, that was a statement of raging sanity.