Open season

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The Washington Redskins achieved one of their major goals of what is it expected to be an unusually quiet free agency period for them, re-signing veteran backup quarterback Todd Collins to a three-year, $9 million contract, a league source told on Friday morning.

The deal includes a $3 million signing bonus for Collins, who led the Redskins to the four-game winning streak that clinched a surprise NFC wild-card playoff berth last season. Collins, 36, had offers from Washington and Jacksonville to consider shortly after free agency opened at 12:01 a.m. on Friday. And while the Jaguars' offer was said to be very competitive with Washington's, Collins had told the Redskins they would have every opportunity to retain him.

Collins' contract raises the bar for backup quarterback pay in the NFL. His $3 million yearly average is a reflection of his value to the Redskins, whose 2007 season appeared to be over before the 13-year veteran took over for the injured Jason Campbell in Week 14, getting his first starting opportunity since playing for Buffalo in 1997.

Other teams believed to have been interested in Collins included St. Louis, where former Redskins offensive coordinator Al Saunders is now in the same position with the Rams, as well as the New York Giants. The Rams on Thursday released backup Gus Frerotte in order to clear both salary cap space and a potential path for Collins to back up starter Marc Bulger. The Giants are in the market for a more experienced veteran backup behind starter Eli Manning, the reigning Super Bowl MVP.

Washington's efforts to retain Collins included new head coach Jim Zorn on Thursday flying to Boston on owner Daniel Snyder's private jet to meet for the first time with Collins, who lives in North Quincy, Mass.

Collins went 3-0 as a starter in the regular season for the Redskins, and won a fourth game in relief of the injured Campbell. Zorn, however, made it clear at last week's NFL scouting combine that Collins would return only as Campbell's backup, and not be allowed to compete with the fourth-year veteran and '05 first-round pick for the Redskins starting job.

In his four regular season games last season, Collins threw for five touchdowns, no interceptions, for 888 yards and a sterling 106.4 quarterback rating. He completed 63.8 percent of his passes.