Instead of getting clearer, the situation involving the Redskins and receiver Laveranues Coles continues to grow more confusing. Even an NFL suit couldn't provide any clarity to the murky situation. From a Washington Times article by Jody Foldesy:
NFL vice president of public relations Greg Aiello couldn't say whether Coles would be permitted to waive the final installment of his $13 million signing bonus, an unusual move that would facilitate his departure from Washington.
'I have no answer to that question,' Aiello said in a telephone interview. 'That totally depends on what is being proposed.' There are two proposals out there. One is for Coles to waive the $5 million bonus installment and get his outright release. This is the one that Coles' camp favors. The other scenario, the one that the Redskins want to execute, is for Coles to forego the five mill and allow the team to trade him.
For Coles to agree to the latter scenario, he's almost have to agree to a new contract with his new team. That's the only way he could recoup the forfieted $5 million. In the open market, of course, he would be able to get that back and then some.
While the situation is murky, one thing is clear: Coles must agree to waive the $5 million bonus payment by the start of free agency on March 2 in order to have the cap relief count towards the 2005 season. March 2 is the drop-dead date for something to happen; that part is set in stone.
Well, sort of. An alternate plan, one that could buy some time, was discussed in Foldesy's article.
The Redskins and Coles, according to sources familiar with the talks, were discussing alternate scenarios to make the trade palatable. One option was to have Coles convert the $5 million into a roster bonus, which would have the same cap effect without a possible roadblock from the NFL Management Council.The thinking is that the Redskins could make the roster bonus due on, say, March 17, allowing the team more time to work out a trade. This would be an extremely high-risk gamble by the Redskins, however. If they can't move Coles they would be forced to cut him on the eve of the deadline or absorb an $8 million + cap hit for his 2005 services.
It's not clear why Coles would agree to such a scenario either. The big bucks are spent in the opening days of the free agent signing period. If he were to be set free two weeks into it, his choices, and the money that teams have to spend on him, would be limited.
Of course it baffles the mind of most logical folks why anyone would be so unhappy playing for a Hall of Fame coach who is known as a player's coach that the player would be willing to risk over $8 million dollars in salary and bonus in one year in order to get out. It makes even less sense when the coach had many very successful wide receivers play for him and the player has a bad toe on which he refuses to get surgery.
It appears now that Coles will not get his main wish, a complete release. It seems now that the Redskins were prepared to do that over the weekend but changed their minds, perhaps when Gibbs returned from Daytona. If that offer is off the table, Coles will have just two options, accept the trade scenario and hope to be able to redo his contract in the process or remain a Redskin.
Coles' value in a trade is hard to pin down. A lot would depend on whether or not the team that trades for him would have to give him a new contract with a new signing bonus. Should a team have to shell out a SB of, say, $8 million it would be inclined to give the Redskins less in compensation than it would if it got Coles for his current contract which has a 2005 salary of about $3 million and no cap consequenses should they decide to cut Coles at any time.
Bear in mind that it would not be disastrous for the team if Coles were to remain with the Redskins, be he happy or not. He was not happy for most of last year and still caught 90 passes. Ty Law vowed that he would never play for the Patriots again, a pledge that Coles has not taken in regards to the Redskins, when New England refused to redo his contract last year. Not all professional athletes--or people in any job--are happy with their current situations, but they go out and make the best of it. And if the employers are aware of the discontent, they will sometimes take measures to minimize that unhappiness. Surely Gibbs and company would make every effort to do so.
For the past 48 hours or so the thinking here is that Coles is a goner, a dead Skin walking. That view is evolving more towards the Coles is staying scenario. There is still a chance that he'll be gone before the end of next season but I'd say it's about 60/40 that he stays. Included in that 40% chance of departure is about a 2% chance he will get his outright release with the rest if it being some sort of trade.