A handful of players filtered into Redskins Park on Monday and most expressed surprise that linebacker LaVar Arrington had decided to part ways with the team.
Arrington had signed a multi-year contract with the Redskins in December 2003, but on Sunday night he reached an agreement with the team that allows him to become a free agent. In doing so, he provides the Redskins with salary cap relief.
Safety Ryan Clark said he talked with Arrington last Saturday. Although Arrington did not disclose his decision to leave the Redskins at that time, Clark felt that Arrington was trying to come to terms about his future with the team.
"I told him, 'LaVar, as a man you have to do what you're comfortable with,'" said Clark, who is an unrestricted free agent this offseason. "Make a decision that you can rest with, no matter what happens either way, and that you can be proud of. I told him, 'You're going to be my friend regardless.'"
Left tackle Chris Samuels has played with Arrington for the last six years since the two were drafted by the Redskins in 2000. Arrington was selected with the second overall pick in the first round and Samuels was chosen with the third overall pick.
"It was shocking," Samuels said of Arrington's departure. "I've been looking all throughout the league at different guys being let go--like [Dallas releasing] La'Roi Glover. That shocked me right there. He's one of the best defensive linemen in the league."
Samuels said he hoped to call Arrington at some point this week.
"I'll tell him I enjoyed playing with him and I'll tell him good luck," he said.
Middle linebacker Lemar Marshall has played with Arrington for the last four years. In 2004, it was Marshall who picked up the slack at weak-side linebacker when Arrington was sidelined with a knee injury. Last year, Marshall moved to the middle and played alongside Arrington.
"Any time a player gives money back, that's a shock," Marshall said. "But I wasn't in the room and I don't know the details of it. It was LaVar's decision to make--that's part of being a man."
Asked if third-year linebacker Chris Clemons, who occasionally replaced Arrington on third downs last season, could take over the weak-side spot in 2006, Marshall replied: "Whoever steps in, I'm sure they're going to be ready for it. They're going to get the job done and do a good job for us."
Wide receiver David Patten is a nine-year NFL veteran who has played for four teams and won three Super Bowl championships. He was perhaps best able to put Arrington's departure into context.
"Bottom line, with the NFL we can talk it up as a football game, but it's only a football game on Sundays," he said. "Outside of that, it's all business. For whatever reason, LaVar felt like he had to [negotiate a new agreement] and that it was in his best interest, as well as the team's best interest.
"We're going to miss him. The one year that I got to know him, he was a good person and a great ballplayer and a team guy. Those types of players--it's hard to replace those guys because you never know what you're going to get. Hopefully, things will work out for him as well as us."