Head coach Joe Gibbs said Thursday that trading Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey was a difficult decision, but the deal "made sense for us" because the team was able to acquire a proven running back in Clinton Portis.
"Nobody can argue and certainly everyone here in Redskins territory can appreciate what Champ Bailey has done," Gibbs said. "He played here for four years and I don't think he ever missed a play. Definitely a great football player, but we felt like this made sense for us and Denver felt it made sense for them. It's one of those things where both teams felt good about it."
In Washington, the Portis-for-Bailey deal might be the biggest player-for-player trade since 1964, when the Redskins completed two major trades: Sonny Jurgensen was acquired from Philadelphia for Norm Snead and Sam Huff was acquired from the New York Giants for Dick James.
Portis has rushed for more than 3,000 yards in just two NFL seasons, while Bailey is a four-time Pro Bowl cornerback regarded as an elite player at his position.
Trading Bailey was not purely a financial decision, Gibbs emphasized. He had one conversation with Bailey and several discussions with Bailey's agent and came away with a sense that the cornerback was ready to move on to another team.
"I kind of felt [signing Bailey to a long-term contract] was going to be tough for us to do," Gibbs said. "It was obvious that Champ wasn't coming to mini-camp and that is really big to me.
"It's important to me for the first go-around for everyone to show up at the mini-camp. The thought that he wouldn't be here--I think he pretty much made up his mind that it was going to be hard for him to come back here."
The Redskins signed cornerback Shawn Springs on Thursday to offset the loss of Bailey. Springs is a seven-year veteran who has 20 career interceptions.
Gibbs, on his goals for the first mini-camp on March 26-28:
"We've already lined up our practices. We know what we're going to be trying to put in on offense and defense. This is a big deal for us when you have a new coaching staff and adding players--it's a chemistry thing. There are a lot of changes and you have to come together as early as possible, so we are having this mini-camp as soon as possible. We're going to get everyone together and look at our guys before the draft and see what we have on the field. We're looking forward to it."
On comparing Portis to any of the running backs he's had in the past:
"That's really hard. Running backs come in all sorts of packages whether it's Joe Washington, John Riggins or Gerald Riggs. I'm not sure if Clinton is comparable to any of those guys. He's very different and all backs are different."
On Portis as a pass-catcher as well as a runner:
"In the game film, he did not come out on third downs. I think he's real comfortable catching the ball. He's not worried or trying to guide it in and he just catches it and goes. The exciting thing is, when you get him the ball past the line of scrimmage and he doesn't have to go through seven guys. That's when it gets exciting. He caught a lot of balls last year and is comfortable being a pass receiver."
On the heart in Portis's play:
"The fact that he plays real physical and tough. That shows up in things like pass protection and things that backs normally don't get credit for. Coaches and quarterbacks appreciate it. That normally translates into somebody that enjoys playing the game and playing with a lot of heart."
On Portis's team attitude:
"The thing I admire about him is that he talks about the team aspect of things. He did a lot of that when we were down at the University of Miami Pro Day. A lot of those Miami guys come back and have a great attitude about things. He showed it today that he likes being a part of having a good team and doesn't put it all on himself. He's a real football player."
On whether the Redskins will pursue any more defensive linemen?
"What I'll say is that defensive linemen are extremely hard to find. I think Jevon Kearse is a heck of a football player and for us it came down to a point where you have to evaluate what can help your team and where you think you'll be able to add people. I think we kind of wish he wasn't in the division, but that's part of life."