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  • Redskins Likely to Release Coles

    Redskins Likely to Release Coles
    Unhappy in Gibbs's Offense, Team's Top Receiver Expresses Desire to Leave
    By Nunyo Demasio
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Monday, February 21, 2005; Page D01

    Washington Redskins wide receiver Laveranues Coles has had at least two extensive conversations with Coach Joe Gibbs since the season ended which are expected to lead to his release from the team, according to sources familiar with the situation.

    Sources said last night that Gibbs, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and Roosevelt Barnes, the agent for Coles, have reached an oral agreement that will likely lead to his release, making the 27-year-old wideout an unrestricted free agent.

    Coles met privately with Gibbs at Redskins Park to express his unhappiness with the offense and a desire to leave the club.

    Gibbs has acknowledged meeting twice with Coles, including earlier this month, but he turned reticent and cryptic when asked about the possibility of Coles's departure.

    "We had a couple of good talks. That's the only statement I want to make," Gibbs said last week. "Me and Laveranues talked, and we have a good understanding."

    Coles caught a career-best 90 passes last season, the third-most in franchise history behind Art Monk. Yet the five-year veteran became frustrated by the lack of a deep passing game. The Redskins finished with the 30th-ranked offense in the league, and Gibbs's ball-control philosophy coupled with a 6-10 record made Coles miserable, said one person with knowledge of the situation.

    Gibbs, who also serves as team president, intends to accommodate Coles's request instead of keeping a player who prefers to be elsewhere, said two other sources who requested anonymity.

    Should Coles be released, one source said, he would return part of his $13 million signing bonus to minimize salary cap ramifications. Tomorrow is the first day that NFL teams are allowed to waive players.

    Sources said that late this past season Coles requested a trade after meeting with Snyder and Vice President of Football Operations Vinny Cerrato, since they were the two most responsible for acquiring him in 2003. But after discussions with Gibbs, a collective decision was apparently made to waive Coles.

    Coles, who has changed his cell phone number, could not be reached for comment. Barnes didn't return several calls last week to his Roanoke, Ind., office. Snyder, through spokesperson Karl Swanson, referred questions to Gibbs. Reached last night, Cerrato declined to comment.

    The Redskins signed Coles to a seven-year, $35 million deal as a restricted free agent from the New York Jets. At the time, the $13 million signing bonus was the richest in Redskins history, forcing the Jets to settle for Washington's first-round pick (No. 13 overall) instead of matching it. The Redskins had envisioned the 5-foot-11, 193-pound Coles using his combination of speed and quickness to stretch the field, allowing Rod Gardner to exploit single coverage. In Steve Spurrier's pass-happy offense, Coles responded with 82 catches for 1,204 and six touchdowns. He also made the Pro Bowl.

    Gibbs's offense was geared toward tailback Clinton Portis, but the Redskins foresaw Coles posting big numbers because of the need to occasionally go downfield. According to Joe Bugel -- Washington's assistant head coach of offense -- Coles had the third-most passes in the NFL thrown in his direction.

    "The offense was friendly to Laveranues Coles," Bugel said last week. "We fed him."

    However, most of the throws were intermediate passes and screens designed for Coles to gain yards after the catch. Coles averaged a career-low 10.6 yards per catch. And his sole touchdown came on a halfback option pass from Clinton Portis.

    Said offensive coordinator Don Breaux: "I've been coaching in the NFL for 24 years, and receivers all want the ball more than they get it. And we want them to want the ball, and to score touchdowns. We would be foolish to not try to do everything we can to take advantage" of Coles.

    Gardner has been on the trading block after a "mutual" decision.

    Although Gibbs said he doesn't intend to overhaul the roster, Coles's situation means Washington almost certainly will have two new starting wideouts. Reserve wideouts Taylor Jacobs and James Thrash are expected to have increased roles next season, but Gibbs plans to address the team's needs mainly through free agency.

    Pittsburgh's Plaxico Burress and Oakland's Jerry Porter headline an unspectacular pool of wideouts. The group could be bolstered by possible salary cap casualties such as St. Louis's Isaac Bruce, Carolina's Muhsin Muhammad and Tennessee's Derrick Mason. If released, Coles instantly would be one of the premier receivers available. And several teams -- including the Cowboys, Falcons and Ravens -- are expected to pursue wideouts.

    The Redskins possess the ninth overall pick in April's NFL draft, providing an opportunity to select one of college's top two wideouts: Michigan's Braylon Edwards and USC's Mike Williams.

    Last season, Gibbs was criticized for his conservative play-calling, with a passing unit that mustered only four completions of 40 yards or longer. (Coles caught one of them, for his season-high of 45 yards.) Following a four-day evaluation after the regular season, the Redskins plan to employ more of an attacking offense -- "Let it fly," Breaux said -- markedly increasing downfield passes.

    Bugel conceded, "We didn't have enough 'explosion plays,' as we call 'em."

    Nonetheless, the shift will not cause the club to try dissuading Coles, said two sources. Midway through the season, Coles stopped conducting interviews, apparently to avoid making any incendiary public statements. But Coles's displeasure was a little-kept secret in the locker room.

    "Sometimes it seemed like he missed Spurrier," a top Redskins player, who joined the club last season, said yesterday. "I love Laveranues because he's a warrior. No one plays harder. But if he doesn't want to be here, then it's best to find another team."

    Despite Coles's request to depart, his coaches and teammates praised his competitiveness and professionalism. "I tip my hat to him," Breaux said.

    Coles played with an ailing right big toe throughout the season and an injured middle finger for the final 14 games. Known for being one of the NFL's most sure-handed receivers, he was plagued by dropped passes.

    Last November, when a reporter told Coles he seemed disgruntled throughout the year, Coles responded sardonically: "You're very perceptive."

  • #2
    Re: Redskins Likely to Release Coles

    Very confusing this situation:

    I don't know anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Gibbs: Coles Is Part of Team's Plans
    By Gary Fitzgerald
    February 21, 2005

    Head coach Joe Gibbs said on Monday that a media report suggesting that wide receiver Laveranues Coles may be released by the Redskins is "inaccurate and untrue."

    "[Coles] and I have had several talks and we understand each other," Gibbs told the media on Monday at Redskins Park. "We're just working our way through everything during the offseason, and that's really it."

    Asked if there's a chance Coles might not be with the team next season, Gibbs said: "My statement is how I feel about it and I'm making plans and we're going forward with what we have and [Coles] is part of those plans."

    Gibbs said his conversations with Coles would remain private.

    "He's a very valuable guy to the Redskins and we have a lot invested in him. Sometimes things during the year don't go exactly the way you want them to. I know offensively I wish we had more production than we did, and that's my responsibility."

    Coles caught a career-high 90 passes for 950 yards and one touchdown last season. In two seasons in Washington, he has caught 172 passes for 2,154 yards and seven TDs.

    Gibbs said the team continues to evaluate the wide receivers among the crop of pending free agents and collegiate players entering the NFL Draft. The Redskins have granted wide receiver Rod Gardner permission to seek a trade.

    "We feel that with James Thrash and Taylor Jacobs, we can build around those two guys," Gibbs said. "And we have [Coles]. So we're going to be look for a player to take [Gardner's] spot."


    • #3
      Re: Redskins Likely to Release Coles

      Didn't see this one coming. Any idea where he'll end up? The only team I've heard mentioned is Dallas.


      • #4
        Re: Redskins Likely to Release Coles

        Originally posted by ZigZagRam
        Didn't see this one coming. Any idea where he'll end up? The only team I've heard mentioned is Dallas.
        A lot of rumours about back to the Jets or maybe the Bears.


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