Daniels joining revamped Redskins

Updated: March 3, 2004, 11:40 AM ET
Associated Press

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins signed former Chicago Bears defensive lineman Phillip Daniels on Tuesday, giving the team three significant potential player acquisitions even before the start of free agency.

Daniels and his wife, accompanied by linebackers coach Dale Lindsey, were flown to Washington in owner Dan Snyder's jet from Tallahasse, Fla., near Daniels' Georgia home. Daniels passed his physical and arrived at Redskins Park late in the afternoon to sign his contract.

"That's what I want to be on, a team that wants to win," Daniels said. "Not a team that wants to save money."

Daniels, who will turn 31 on Thursday, joins Jacksonville quarterback Mark Brunell and probably Denver running back Clinton Portis as new Redskins in an earlier-than-usual start to Snyder's offseason splash of signings.

A trade for Brunell was worked out two weeks ago and was formally announced by the Jaguars on Tuesday. The trade for Portis neared completion Tuesday, pending a contract agreement between the Broncos and Washington cornerback Champ Bailey.

Brunell will arrive Wednesday, with Portis set to follow with his own news conference on Thursday.

Although free agency officially doesn't begin until Wednesday, the Redskins were able to sign Daniels because he was cut by the Bears on Monday. Chicago's move was long-expected, and the Bears had given the Redskins permission to negotiate with Daniels before his release.

Daniels has played four seasons each with Seattle and Chicago, with 44 sacks and 370 tackles playing both end and tackle over an eight-year career. He had 2 sacks -- his fewest since his rookie season in Seattle -- and 41 tackles while starting all 16 games last season for the Bears. His projected $3 million salary for 2004 made him an ideal salary-cap casualty as new Chicago coach Lovie Smith attempts to rebuild the team.

Daniels will be reunited with new Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache, who held the same job during Daniels' four years with the Bears.

Brunell, Portis and Daniels are just the beginning for the Redskins. Washington acquired nine players in the first four days of free agency last season, and they just may find a way to top that this time around as they look to fill several holes from last year's 5-11 season.

Defensive linemen Jevon Kearse, Cornelius Griffin and Robaire Smith, cornerbacks Shawn Springs and Troy Vincent, tight end Walter Rasby and punter Chris Gardocki are among the players the Redskins are set to pursue when the market opens Wednesday morning.

"We're going to have the plane going non-stop," coach Joe Gibbs said.

Daniels is the first step in a needed overhaul of the defensive line. The defense ranked 24th against the run, and the top pass-rushing threat last season was 40-year-old Bruce Smith, who has since been released. Defensive end Renaldo Wynn could be the only starter who retains his job next season.

The Redskins plan to send four-time, Pro Bowl cornerback Bailey and a second-round draft pick to the Broncos for Portis, who agreed to an eight-year, $50.5 million contract with Washington on Monday. The final step is for Denver to work out a contract with Bailey, and his agent said that deal could be "wrapped up quickly" after resolving a few details.

A third-round pick is the price for Brunell, who agreed to a seven-year, $43 million contract with the Redskins last month. The flurry of activity, added to deals made in previous years, has left Washington with just two selections -- in the first and fifth rounds -- in this year's draft.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press