The Washington Redskins, who curently have the ninth-best record in pro football, lead the National Football League in player salaries with $3.6 million, The Washington Post has learned.
Fullback John Riggins, out of action because of a knee injury, is the highest-paied member of George Allen's gang, earning approximately $300,000 a year.
Reserve quarterback Billy Kilmer is next, at about $210,000 annually, with wide receiver Charley Taylor at $135,000.
Running backs Calvin Hill and Mike Thomas reportedly are paid $125,000 a year each, as is safety Jake Scott and the head coach.
These approximate figures were compiled from interviews with present and former members of the redskin team, front-office personnel, assistant coaches, as well as other NFL sources.
At the moment, the Redskins have 57 players on their payroll - 43 men on the active roster, two more on the taxe squad and 12 on the injured reserve list. That would mean the average Redskin salary is $63,000 and change.
There are 13 players earning $100,000 per year or more, with Riggins highest paid with a $1.5 million five year contract. Riggins, like several other Redskins, has elected to be paid under deferred compensation for tax purposes. Riggins' payout will be done over 15 years, according to sources.
Last year, The Washington Post obtained the financial record of the football team form 1973 through 1975. Those figures became available because the pricipal team owner, Jack Kent Cooke, had several groups interested in purchasing the club. According to those figures, the Redskin players salary payroll has increased from $2.6 million in 1973, the year following the Super Bowl season, by $1 million.
There are several factors involved, the most important being the formation o f the World Football League in 1973. The Redskins, and many other teams, protected themselves by offering large increase to key players tempted to bolt to the now-defunct league.
And before the 1976 season, the Redskins opened their checkbooks again to bid for three high-priced free agents - Riggins, Hill and tight end Jean Fugett.
The Redskins also have 16 players under contract who are 30 or older, with a total of 18 players with eight or more years of experience in the league. The more veterans a team has, the higher the payroll, with Allen at the controls.
"He's (Allen) always paid more than anybody else, and that's why veterans love to come to Washington," said one former Redskin who declined to be identified. "George just treats you right."
Scott alluded to that earlier this season when he said coming to the Redskins was like being in "football heaven."
The leadking salaries:
Offensive line: Len Hauss ($100,000); Terry Hermeling ($75,000): George Starke ($70,000); Ron Saul ($65,000); Tim Stokes ($50,000).
Backfield: Kilmer ($210,000); Joe Theismann ($90,000 this year, $150,000 next season); Riggins ($300,000); Thomas ($125,000); Hill ($125,000); Bob Brunet ($65,000).
Receivers: Taylor ($135,000); Fugett ($115,000); Frank Grant ($90,000); Jerry Smith ($85,000).
Defensive line: Diron Talbert ($110,000); Ron McDole ($100,000); Dave Butz ($85,000); Bill Brundige ($80,000); Dennis Johnson ($75,000).
Linebackers: Chris Hanburger ($100,000); Mike Curtis ($80,000); Harold McClinton ($70,000); Brad Dusek ($60,000); Rusty Tillman ($65,000); Pete Wysocki ($60,000).
Defensive backfield: Scott ($125,000); Ken Houston ($110,000); Pat Fischer ($100,000); Brig Owens ($80,000); Joe Lavender ($80,000).
Specialists: Mike Bragg ($65,000); Mark Moseley ($55,000); Eddie Brown ($50,000).
Some of the salaries listed above reflect money paid out as incentive clauses, as well.
Defensive lineman, for example, can earn as much as $500 a sack. A running back who gains 1,000 yards of more is likely to receive a $5,000 bonus; the No. 1 special-team player can earn as much as $2,500.
There are even incentives for starting a certain number of games, or playing so many minutes for the year. The leading pass blocker on the offensive line can earn an extra $5,000.
One of the younger Redskin players now on injured reserve reportedly received an extra $7,000 just because he made it through training camp.
Many players also pick up additional cash from endorsements, radion and television shows. Most also trade their season tickets for courtesy cars supplied by a local automobile dealer.
While Allen is generous with his players, his assistant coaches and administrative staff are basically in line with the rest of the NFL.
Torgy Torgeson, the devensive coordinator who has been with Allen for years, is the highest-paid assistant, in the $60,000 a year range. The rest of the on-the-field coaching staff earns between $30,000 and $45,000.
There are also incentive and bonus clauses written into their contracts for performance by their players on the field, as well as for playoff appearances.
Front-office personnel are generally in the $20,000 to $35,000 bracket.