NEW YORK, NOV. 16 -- Suspended Washington Redskins defensive lineman Dexter Manley met for more than an hour today with National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to plead his case for rejoining the league, and sources said afterward that he most likely will be reinstated on Monday.

League sources indicated that Manley -- who tested positive for cocaine use last November and subsequently was banned "for life" from the league as a three-time offender of its substance abuse policy -- had a positive conversation with Tagliabue. The commissioner is expected to announce Monday afternoon -- one day after the one-year anniversary of the expulsion -- that Manley will be allowed to resume his playing career.

Players are permitted to appeal the lifetime ban after one year.

The Redskins have been saying privately for months that should Manley be reinstated they would immediately place him on waivers, making him eligible to be claimed by another team. And league sources said today that a number of teams, if given the chance, would sign the 32-year-old former star.

Manley emerged smiling after the meeting in the NFL's offices on Park Avenue with his agent and "adopted dad" Bob Woolf, the Boston attorney who was also present at the session with Tagliabue. Manley, wearing a dark pinstripe suit, admitted he was nervous about the meeting and said he is anxiously awaiting Tagliabue's decision.

"Of course I'm nervous," said Manley, who added he has not spoken with any Redskins player or official since being banned. "It's not a pleasant thing to come down here under these conditions. But I'm optimistic and we'll see what happens.

"What's most important is my recovery and my sobriety right now. That't the {biggest} problem I'm faced with and the thing I'm most concerned about. But I feel with my athletic ability and my desire to do the right thing I should be allowed to come back. Then I will get picked up and I will be an asset on and off the field."

Asked if he thought he would be able to step right in and play this season if he is reinstated, Manley said, "Give me that opportunity and we'll find out."

Said Woolf: "Nothing is taken for granted but we are very optimistic. We understand the pressure of the decision Tagliabue must make and hopefully we presented our case as best we could.

"I think {the league} is really convinced that Dexter has put in a good year and has done everything they have asked him to do. I think they are very concerned that all of that continues in the future as well. And there is nothing unreasonable about that at all."

Tagliabue was not available to comment. The league released a statement saying the commissioner will announce his decision Monday after informing Manley.

If reinstated, Manley would be the fourth player to return to the NFL after being banned from the league -- but the first to do so after only one year. Hal Garner, a former linebacker with Buffalo; Charles White, a former Los Angeles Rams running back; and former New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins running back Tony Collins were allowed to return after lifetime bans for substance abuse. Only White and Collins played again.

Woolf said they presented to Tagliabue evidence such as written statements from hospitals and doctors that Manley has been alcohol and drug free for the last 388 days.

"There has been a lot of growth," Manley said. "I'm very happy with what I have accomplished. I look back and that's all behind me. I'm looking to the solution and not the problem anymore."

Manley said he is in "pretty good shape" and has been working out at George Mason University. He said his most recent time in the 40-yard dash is 4.58. Neverthless, the Redskins apparently do not want Manley back, regardless of his physical condition. In fact, Woolf said he recently attempted to contact owner Jack Kent Cooke, but was unsuccessful.

Redskins General Manager Charley Casserly and Coach Joe Gibbs today declined to comment on Manley's status with the team.

Manley said he wanted to keep "all of his options open right now. I don't want to speculate on who might and who might not take me."

If Manley is placed on waivers, the team with the worst record would have the first shot at claiming him. The 1-8 New England Patriots are assured of the first bid, but Patriots General Manager Patrick Sullivan said they have no interest in Manley.

Currently the teams with the next-worse records are Cleveland (2-7), Phoenix (2-7), Dallas (3-7); five teams have 3-6 records. Ties are broken by coin toss.

A team claiming Manley in the first 24 hours would have to pick up his $480,000 salary -- $180,000 for the final six games of the season. Should no one claim Manley in the first 24 hours, he would become an unrestricted free agent and could negotiate with any team that was interested.

Phoenix, Dallas, Los Angeles and the Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) have expressed interest in Manley. Phoenix Coach Joe Bugel, a former assistant with the Redskins, said he has "a lot of respect" for Manley.

Philadelphia Coach Buddy Ryan said: "If he {is clean} I say give him a shot."

Said Woolf: "The main thing for Dexter right now is to take one thing at a time. First he needs to see if he is reinstated, then he can worry about the other things."