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Smoot Signs With Vikings

The Redskins lost one of their unrestricted free agents on Tuesday evening when cornerback Fred Smoot agreed to terms with the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings' official team web site reported the agreement, which was reported to be for six years.

Head coach Joe Gibbs said as early as last week that the team hoped to retain the 5-11, 174-pound Smoot. But Gibbs reiterated that he didn't want to overspend on one player if that meant impacting the core group of Redskins.

"We made a number of proposals there," Gibbs said on March 4.

Smoot joins linebacker Antonio Pierce in departing the Redskins' third-ranked defensive unit from last season. Pierce signed with the New York Giants on March 3.

The Redskins selected Smoot in 2001 in the second round (45th overall) of the NFL Draft. In four seasons, he started 57 of 60 games and recorded 215 tackles (176 solo), 16 interceptions and three forced fumbles. In 2003, Smoot was the team's Ed Block Courage Award winner, given to the player who battled through injuries. He had played most of that season through a painful sternum injury.

With Smoot out of the picture, the Redskins will likely turn to veteran Walt Harris to team with Shawn Springs in the secondary. Young players Ade Jimoh, Garnell Wilds and Rufus Brown could get a look.

The cornerback position also could move to the forefront of team needs as the Redskins approach the NFL Draft in April.

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