After more than a week of discussions, hours of deliberation, high anxiety and low comedy, the much-anticipated trade of disgruntled wide receivers from the Washington Redskins and New York Jets has been agreed upon.
The deal is pending physicals exams for both players. ESPN.com has learned Moss will take his exam Monday, while Colesis to take his Tuesday.
The on-again/off-again swap, in the works since last Friday when the teams began to bargain while attending the draft combine workouts in Indianapolis, came together on Saturday, when the Jets and Coles agreed on restructuring his contract.
Coles' agent, Roosevelt Barnes, told ESPN.com Saturday afternoon that there are still a few issues to be resolved, but that the sides have agreed in principle on all the key parameters. The contract will not be extended beyond the five years that were remaining on it. But Coles will receive guarantees totaling $8 million and, almost as important, will not rebate any of the $13 million he received from Washington in 2003 to the Redskins. That means since March 20, 2003, Coles and Barnes will have struck deals totaling a whopping $21 million in guarantees.
It had become obvious in recent days that, despite numerous hurdles and complications, the deal would be consummated. There were too many people who wanted to trade to be consummated that it almost had to happen. And neither player, knowing they were on the trade block, wanted to return to their incumbent clubs.
Drew Rosenhaus, the agent for Moss, told his anxious client earlier this week that he should consider himself a "Washington Jet." At no time during trade negotiations did Jets officials attempt to contact Moss, another circumstantial hint they were set on dealing him away.
New York clearly feels that Coles, whom they chose in the third round of the 2000 draft, is the better receiver of the two. The former Florida State standout caught 170 passes in his three years with the Jets, including 89 catches for 1,264 yards and five touchdowns in a breakout 2002 season. It was after that season that the Redskins signed Coles to a lucrative offer sheet as a restricted free agent.
The Jets did not want to let Coles escape, but the terms of the restricted free agent offer sheet, a seven-year deal worth $35 million and including a $13 million signing bonus, were too prohibitive to match. New York passed on the opportunity to match the deal and received a first-round choice in the 2003 draft as compensation.
Coles played well in his two seasons in Washington but chafed about the team's passing game design. He met twice with head coach Joe Gibbs to air grievances about a passing game, which he felt lacks vertical dimension.
The two sides also disagreed about a lingering toe injury that Washington officials felt had become a problem. The Redskins preferred that Coles have offseason surgery. The wide receiver, who played the entire 2004 season with the injury, disagreed. Even with the toe injury, Coles had 90 catches for 950 yards in 2004.
Washington covets Moss' explosiveness. With the departure of Coles and pending exit of Rod Gardner, the club's other starter, he will become the 'Skins' top wideout.
Moss, 25, was the Jets' first-round choice in the 2001 draft and has been a productive playmaker when healthy. Moss has missed time, however, with hamstring and knee injuries. In four seasons, he had 29 starts in 51 appearances, with 151 receptions for 2,416 yards and 19 touchdowns. His best season came in 2003, when he posted 74 catches, 1,105 yards and nine scores.
He is entering the final year of his original rookie contract and is scheduled to earn a base salary of $448,000 in 2005. Washington will seek a contract extension with Moss before completing any deal for him, but that should not be a problem. Rosenhaus, the agent for Moss, has worked with Redskins owner Dan Snyder on several contracts in the past and the two men have a strong relationship.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here.