Bringing back a familiar face and strengthening an already relatively deep position, the Washington Redskins have reached an agreement in principle to acquire veteran wide receiver James Thrash from the Philadelphia Eagles for a 2005 draft choice, ESPN.com has learned.
The deal, struck late Monday, is likely to be announced on Tuesday. In exchange for Thrash, the Eagles will receive a fifth-round pick in the 2005 draft, sources confirmed.
Thrash, 28, began his NFL career with the Redskins in 1997, signing as an undrafted free agent from Missouri Southern State University. He spent his first four seasons in Washington before joining the Eagles as an unrestricted free agent in 2001. He was a starter in all three years at Philadelphia after being a reserve with the Redskins.
ESPN.com noted two weeks ago when Philadelphia acquired Terrell Owens that Thrash would probably be the veteran Eagles receiver bumped out of a job. Trading the popular Thrash thins out the Philadelphia wideout corps and should allow some younger players, such as Freddie Mitchell and Billy McMullen, to get more playing time.
The addition of Thrash further crowds the Washington receiver corps and could fuel speculation that starter Rod Gardner, the team's first-round pick in 2001, might be dangled as trade bait. The Redskins already have lead receiver Laveranues Coles and the coaches like young wideout Darnerian McCants. With Thrash, 2003 second-rounder Taylor Jacobs and the fleet Cliff Russell on the roster, the Redskins have good depth.
Thrash also provides Washington a high-character player who is a good presence in the locker room, a terrific special teams coverage performer, and a proven kickoff returner.
In acquiring Thrash, the Redskins assume the final two seasons of his current contract, which calls for base salaries of $1.6 million in 2004 and $2 million in 2005. The Eagles, who are already flush with cap room, will recoup a savings of $1.366 million on their 2004 cap number, but will have to carry $480,000 of "dead money" for Thrash.
Washington cleared up $2 million in cap space when it traded
fullback Bryan Johnson to the Chicago Bears on Monday.
A seven-year veteran, Thrash has 229 catches for 2,910 yards and 18 touchdowns in his career. Over the last four seasons, when he has blossomed as a receiver, he has averaged 53.5 catches, 669.7 yards and 4.3 touchdowns. He twice led Philadelphia receivers in his three years with the Eagles and had 49 catches in 2003.
He has started in 55 of his 93 regular-season appearances.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.