Redskins cut loose Wilkinson

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 30, 2003

ASHBURN, Va. - Dan Wilkinson was cut by the Washington Redskins on Tuesday in a moneysaving move that leaves a large hole in the defensive line.

Wilkinson wouldn't accept a cut in his team-high $3.5 million salary. Owner Dan Snyder's negotiations with agent Brig Owens continued continued into Tuesday - while Wilkinson watched practice - but a deal could not be reached.

Wilkinson, 30, had a career-low 17 tackles and no sacks last season. He played part of the season with a bad wrist and missed the final month with a calf injury.

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The Redskins felt Wilkinson's subpar season warranted renegotiation of his contract, but they also had been counting on Wilkinson to return as the starting left tackle, especially after Daryl Gardener signed as a free agent with Denver.

With Wilkinson gone, Jermaine Haley joins Brandon Noble as the first-string tackles. Haley had nine NFL starts with Miami in 2000 and 2001, but he was a backup all last season.

The Redskins will be hard-pressed to find another starting-quality tackle this late in the summer unless another team releases a veteran.

Wilkinson, meanwhile, will look for work elsewhere, but he's unlikely to get an offer anywhere close to $3.5 million.

When training camp opened Monday, Wilkinson stood in shorts and watched both practices. The Redskins didn't want him to take part because if he got injured, the team could be liable for his entire salary under league rules.

Complicating matters was Wilkinson's decision to fire his agent Friday.

Defensive end Bruce Smith lobbied the team not to cut Wilkinson.

''I'm in support of having Dan Wilkinson out there at left tackle,'' Smith said. ''There's no replacement.''

Wilkinson was drafted No. 1 overall by Cincinnati in 1994, and traded to the Redskins in 1999.