ASHBURN, Va. -- Dan Snyder had to gas up his jet a day early this year.
Daniels, cut on Monday by the Chicago Bears, joins Jacksonville quarterback Mark Brunell and probably Denver running back Clinton Portis as new Redskins in the earlier-than-usual start to Snyder's offseason splash of signings.
There's more to come. Defensive linemen Jevon Kearse, Cornelius Griffin and Robaire Smith, cornerbacks Shawn Springs and Troy Vincent, tight end Walter Rasby and punter Chris Gardocki are among players the Redskins are set to pursue when free agency officially begins Wednesday morning.
"We're going to have the plane going nonstop," said coach Joe Gibbs, who didn't have to deal with free agency or the salary cap during his first stint with the team.
Daniels flew with his wife and linebackers coach Dale Lindsey from Tallahassee, Fla., near Daniels' Georgia home, passed his physical and arrived at Redskins Park late in the afternoon to sign his contract.
"That's what I want to be on, a team that wants to win," Daniels said. "Not a team that wants to save money."
Brunell's news conference is scheduled for Wednesday. His trade was worked out two weeks ago and was announced formally by the Jaguars on Tuesday.
Portis' arrival is tentatively set for Thursday, although his signing is pending a contract agreement between the Broncos and Washington cornerback Champ Bailey.
Although free agency officially begins Wednesday, the Redskins were able to sign Daniels early because he was already cut by the Bears. Chicago's move was long-expected, and the Bears had given the Redskins permission to negotiate with Daniels before his release.
Daniels, who will turn 31 on Thursday, can play end or tackle. He spent four seasons each with Seattle and Chicago, making 44½ sacks and 370 tackles over an eight-year career. He had 2½ sacks -- his fewest since his rookie season in Seattle -- and 41 tackles while starting all 16 games last season for the struggling Bears. His projected $3 million salary for 2004 made him an ideal salary-cap casualty as new Chicago coach Lovie Smith attempts to rebuild the team.
Daniels will be reunited with new Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache, who held the same job during Daniels' four years with the Bears.
Washington acquired nine players in the first four days of free agency last season, and they just might find a way to top that this time around as they look to fill several holes from last year's 5-11 season.
Daniels is the first step in a needed overhaul of the defensive line. The defense ranked 24th against the run, and the top pass-rushing threat last season was 40-year-old Bruce Smith, who has since been released. Defensive end Renaldo Wynn could be the only starter to retain his job next season.
The Redskins plan to send four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Bailey and a second-round draft pick to the Broncos for Portis, who agreed to an eight-year, $50.5 million contract with Washington on Monday. The final step is for Denver to work out a contract with Bailey, and Bailey's agent has said that deal is close to completion.
A third-round pick is the price for Brunell, who agreed to a seven-year, $43 million contract with the Redskins last month. The flurry of activity, added to deals made in previous years, has left Washington with just two selections -- in the first and fifth rounds -- in this year's draft.
The Associated Press News Service
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