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Brunell Hopes Team Can Keep Core Group

Earlier this week, Mark Brunell agreed to terms on a restructured contract, pending an extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The veteran quarterback is hopeful that it starts a trend among his teammates.

Said Brunell: "A lot of guys have to step up, particularly guys who are making a considerable amount of money. We have to keep this team together."

As talks between NFL owners and players were off, and then on again, most clubs had spent Thursday facing tough decisions as to how to best get under the projected $94.5 million salary cap figure.

"Certainly, a lot of people around the NFL are waiting to see what happens," Brunell said. "It's critical to the future of our sport that we resolve this thing."

The Redskins were busy trying to restructure contracts of some of Brunell's teammates. Head coach Joe Gibbs has said that retaining as many players as possible from last season is a priority.

The Redskins do not normally announce contract restructurings, but the team decided to announce that Brunell had restructured after a newspaper report suggested he had been reluctant to do so.

Brunell was at FedExField on Thursday afternoon and read to local children as part of the Redskins Charitable Foundation's participation in "Read Across America Day." The National Education Association event coincides with the birthday of children's author Dr. Seuss.

In a moment of levity, Brunell admitted that "The Cat in the Hat" is among his all-time favorites.

Asked if he had managed to read through the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement, Brunell said he understood the spirit of the document even if the details and intricacies are lodged beyond his grasp.

At the same time, he expressed confidence that it's not all that difficult for an NFL player to restructure his contract. In fact, Brunell referred to the process as "a piece of cake."

The 13-year NFL veteran continued: "It goes back to what's important, the team is what's important. If I don't restructure, then that may cost a couple of other guys from not being able to be re-signed.

"All the guys who have been around, I know, feel the same way. You're helping the football team when you restructure. There are a lot of different ways to do it, different approaches. I think we'll get there.

"Nowadays, with free agency, it's not easy to keep a team together. But that's what we need to do--keep our core guys. I've never been on a team with as much character and chemistry."

Brunell is coming off a season in which he passed for 3,050 yards and 23 touchdowns, with just 10 interceptions.

He directed the Redskins back to the playoffs for the first time since 1999 and quarterbacked the team to a wild card round playoff win at Tampa Bay by a 17-10 score.

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