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Royal, Clark Hope to Return Next Season

Safety Ryan Clark and tight end Robert Royal departed Redskins Park at precisely the same time on Monday afternoon, beginning an offseason of uncertainty for the two LSU alums.

As two of the team's starters, Clark and Royal headline the Redskins' list of unrestricted free agents.

Both expressed hope that they will return to the Redskins next year.

"I think I'll be back," Clark said. "I talked to Coach [Joe] Gibbs and Coach [Gregg] Williams and we're all of the same accord. I want to be here and they want me here. I think everything will work out fine. I'll just pray on it and leave it to the people who do contracts."

Said Royal: "I want to be back here. I have confidence that coaches and the personnel guys and my agent will get something worked out. I love it here. I'm a Redskin, regardless."

Clark, a fourth-year veteran, started 12 games last season and finished with 65 tackles (45 solo), three interceptions, a half-sack and a forced fumble.

Perhaps Clark's most memorable play of the season came in Week 9 when he intercepted a Donovan McNabb pass in the final minute of the game to seal a 17-10 win for the Redskins.

Clark also logged an interception in Week 17 against the Eagles. It also occurred late in the fourth quarter, this time off of Eagles' QB Koy Detmer, to help preserve a 31-20 win for the Redskins.

Royal just finished his third NFL season. He was a fifth-round draft pick by the Redskins in 2003.

Royal started 14 of 15 games last season, recording 18 catches for 131 yards and one touchdown.

Other unrestricted free agents include long snapper Ethan Albright, linebacker Khary Campbell, running back Rock Cartwright and defensive end Demetric Evans.

"You never know what is going to happen, but our goal is to keep everybody together," Gibbs said after last Saturday's 20-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. "We have a lot to do here, to try and get ready for next year and continue to add to our football team.

Another unrestricted free agent, offensive lineman Ray Brown, reiterated on Monday that he is retiring from playing in the NFL after 20 years of service.

Brown, 43, could rejoin the Redskins in some capacity next season, Gibbs said.

"I told him, 'What we want to do is have you stay in the organization,'" Gibbs said. "I think he's a terrific football guy and a great person. I think he means a lot to the team. He's obviously spent a great part of his life in football."

"What he's going to do is take some time, get away with family for a little bit. We definitely feel like he'll wind up here. We'll try and figure out where he fits and what he wants to do. We're excited about that."

Brown was given an ovation during the Redskins' team meeting on Monday.

Said center Casey Rabach: "I'm just glad I could be part of it with Ray. He's just a great guy on the field and an even greater guy off the field. He has nothing to hang his head about. He has had a great career and we'll definitely miss him."

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