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Moss signs new contract, reports to Redskins

ASHBURN, Va. (May 5, 2005) -- Two months after trading for Santana Moss, the Washington Redskins finally got him to show up for a workout.

It took a six-year contract, which the receiver signed May 5, to end his boycott of the team's offseason program.

"It was real awkward," said Moss. "I wish we didn't have to go that route, but it's behind us now."

After welcoming Moss into the fold, coach Joe Gibbs offered little hope for a quick end to the stalemate with safety Sean Taylor, the only remaining player staying away from Redskins Park for want of a new deal. Gibbs did have an update on Rod Gardner, saying he is "skeptical" that the disgruntled receiver will return to the team next season.

Gibbs has been critical of Moss and Taylor, saying their absences from the three-day-a-week offseason workouts were hurting the team and potentially their careers. In particular, Gibbs felt that Moss, acquired in the trade that sent Laveranues Coles to the New York Jets in March, needed to start developing a chemistry with the team's quarterbacks.

Oddly enough, Moss agreed. The receiver stayed in contact with Gibbs and let the coach know he was staying in shape -- and he kept hounding his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, to close a new deal.

"It's different if I was in New York and I knew everything and knew everybody, but it's something new for me and I wanted to get in on the right foot," Moss said. "That was my whole emphasis, get up here and make sure I'm getting involved and these guys have the right thoughts about me."

But business came first. Moss had one year remaining on the contract he signed with the Jets, and he wanted assurance of long-term stability before reporting to his new team.

"You don't want to be a player bouncing around," Moss said. "You want to be somewhere where you can make a home."

Moss is getting a handsome payoff for a player who caught 45 passes for 838 yards last season, although he was bothered much of the year by a hamstring injury. The Redskins point out that his 18.6 average is exactly what's needed for a team that struggled to complete long passes last season. Also, Moss put up solid numbers in 2003: 74 catches for 1,105 yards and 10 touchdowns.

As for Taylor, Gibbs said he wants the second-year safety to report as soon as possible, especially before the start of organized team practices May 17, but that doesn't appear likely. While they were content to reward Moss because there was only one year left on his contract, the Redskins aren't inclined to negotiate with Taylor because it's been just one year since he signed a seven-year deal.

"The biggest thing there is he has a contract," Gibbs said. "He's got a long-term contract that he's signed."

Meanwhile, Gardner's days with the team are still numbered. Unhappy with the offense, Gardner asked for a trade in January, and the Redskins have tried to oblige. With no takers, Gibbs held out hope recently that Gardner could be talked into staying with the team.

On Thursday, however, Gibbs was pessimistic that the sides would make up.

"After talking to him, I'd say I'm kind of skeptical of that working out," Gibbs said.

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