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Monday, February 28, 2005
Rolle could nab $15M signing bonus from Redskins

By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- Despite denials from team officials, the Washington Redskins are pursuing a deal with cornerback Samari Rolle, one of six veterans released last week by the Tennessee Titans in a bloody salary cap purge, and a player who is among the most coveted free agents in the league.

Samari Rolle
Cornerback
Tennessee Titans
Profile
2004 SEASON STATISTICS
Tot Ast Solo FF Sack Int
28 28 0 0 0 1

Several league sources here said that Rolle, a seven-year veteran with superb cover skills, could command a signing bonus of as much as $15 million given the spending habits of Washington owner Daniel Snyder and the team's need for a cornerback.

One potential hangup to a contract agreement: Rolle was arrested two weeks ago on domestic assault charges and Redskins coach Joe Gibbs will have to be convinced that the veteran cornerback is not a character risk.

Rolle, 28, would replace Fred Smoot in the Redskins secondary. Smoot, one of the best young cornerbacks in the league, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday. He has already rejected a contract extension proposal that included a $10 million signing bonus and seems intent on testing the free agent market.

Signing with the Redskins would reunite Rolle with Gregg Williams, who was defensive coordinator in Tennessee during the cornerback's first three NFL seasons, and who holds the same position in Washington. Also, former Titans teammate Steve Jackson is coaching the Redskins safeties.

It's believed that Williams, who turned in one of the best coaching jobs in the NFL last season, is lobbying hard for the Redskins to acquire Rolle.

Despite a left knee injury that limited him to a career-low 11 appearances in 2004, Rolle is still viewed around the NFL as an aggressive "shut down" corner with several good years remaining. Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said he believes that Rolle is the top cornerback available as a free agent.

The former Florida State star, a second-round pick in the 1998 draft, has appeared in 100 games and started in 85 of them. He has 299 tackles, 23 interceptions, 66 passes defensed and 8½ sacks.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.