Joe Theismann will begin negotiations soon with the Redskins for a new contract, armed with a heavyweight agent and numerous questions.

Most of all, he says, "I'd like to know what my future is here. Will it be based on my ability as a player as the only criteria, or are there other factors?

"I'd just like to know where I stand. Right now, I don't."

He knows only that he will be playing on the option year of his contract in 1977. "I'm going to fulfill my contract," he says. "I'm going to play my heart out, no matter what the situation is. I want to stay here, and play in Washington for a long time.

"But if I'm traded or asked to leave, it won't break my heart. I'm 27 now. I believe I've served my apprenticeship. I'd like the opportunity to play a full season at quarterback because I think I can win. No, I know I can."

Theismann has hired Ed Keating to handle his negotiations with the club. Keating, who negotiated the landmark VFL contracts for Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Paul Warfield, "will handle everything," said Theismann. "I want to concentrate completely on football."

What will they be looking for in a new contract?

"We haven't really sat down and discussed it," he said. "I'd rather not get into it publicly. It's between myself and the Redskins."

Theismann said he was not at all surprised to hear Billy Kilmer say last week that he was "99 per cent certain" he would return next season. He was slightly miffed, however, when George Allen was quoted as saying, "Who's better than Kilmer?"

Theismann will not come out and say, "I am," but he would to be able to have someone say. "You'll go in and compete head to head.' Maybe I shouldn't stay this, but I don't believe it will ever be that way.

"So I have to work that much harder, I've got to make that many more right decisions, I've go to be better, period. And that's why I'm working on football in March.

"Theres' not a problem between Billy and me because there's no relationship. We live two entirely different life-styles, and the way they're lived, they just don't go together. Billy and I don't really know each other.

"We've never really discussed much. No, not quarterbacking, now really. Occasionally we'll exchange comments. But it's a unique situation.He's played 10 years longer than I have. What could I possibly tell him that he doesn't know already?

"And maybe Bill feels it's the coaches' responsibility to tell me things. I don't know what he thinks. I do know he's a hell of a football player because of his leadership and his ability to win."

Theismann, quite obviously, believes he has the same kind of ability, particularly after the 1976 season when the Redskins won three of the five games he started and lost by three points or fewer in the two losses.

"I'm not embarrassed about the way it turned out," he said. "But I also know there's a lot of room for improvement."

Theismann still carries a painful reminder of the worst day of his 1976 season, the second Giant game when his last-minute interception cost the Redskins an important football game.

He suffered a severe hip pointer in the first quarter of that game and his left side, from the top of his thigh to the hip, is still numb. "Every once in awhile it tingles, but that's about it," he said.

Still, he works out almost every day, lifting weights, running, throwing two or three times a week and studying films as often as he can.

He has jacked his weight up to 193 - when he arrived four years ago he was about 170 - and he insists the Redskins of 1977 "are going to be a great football team."

"I believe in the Redskins and I believe in the organization," he said. "That's why I want to be a part of it."