If the New York Jets do not intend to exercise their option to keep quarterback Joe Namath for another season, they must notify the NFL commissioner's office by 4 p.m. Friday.
What happens by that deadline will be the first step toward determining the future of the quarterback. For weeks, speculation has had Namath moving to the Los Angeles Rams.
If the Jets do not exercise their option, Namath will go on the waiver list. Other NFL teams would have 10 working days to claim him.
Steve Rosenbloom, assistant to and son of Carroll Rosenbloom, owner of the Rams, said his team would not claim Namath if the he goes on waivers.
"We would not put in a claim or we would have to assume the contract Joe has with the Jets," Rosenbloom said. "We have said before that we will not pay that kind of salary."
Namath's salary is believed to be between $450,000 and $500,000. If he cleared waivers, he would become a free agent, and any team wishing to hire him could bargain over his pay.
Rosenbloom said that his father, general manager Don Kloseterman, coach Chuck Knox and himself will confer for several days in Los Angeles about whether they want to deal for Namath, if he is still available.
"Chuck Knox will make the final decision," Rosenbloom said.
Although the Rams would owe the Jets nothing if they sign Namath as a free agent, they have indicated they might as a gesture of good will offer some sort of compensation.
Meanwhile, - the club owners meeting here voted today to move up to 1977 the permanent placements of Seattle in the AFC West and Tampa Bay in the NFC Central. Tuesday, it was announced the teams would join those divisions in 1978.
In 1976, Seattle was in NFC West and Tampa Pay in the AFC West. In 1977, they were supposed to switch, Seattle going to the AFC Central and Tampa Bay to the Central.
Also voted, for 1977 only, were cutdown dates for the new squad limit of 43 active and two inactive players.
A rule ostensibly passed in connection with the expansion last year to Seattle and Tampa Bay was retained. It was designed to discourage stockpiling and to make better players available to weaker teams.
It provides that, of all the players on a team's injured-reserve list at the end of the season, the club may retain trading rights to three. The rest either have to be put on the club's active list or be exposed to waivers.
The Redskins had 11 players on their injured-reserve list - Charlie Taylor, Paul Laaveg, Larry Jones, Jim Thompson. Brian Fryer, David Thomas, MikeHughes, Doug Winslow. Pete Solverson, Curtis Akins, and Steve Manstedt.
The expectation is that Taylor, Laave, and Jones will join the active list, although Laaveg is a free agent after playing out his option. The Redskins have made a qualifying offer to Laaveg that entitles the team to match any other team's offer or collect compensation if they let him go to another team.
The Redskins figure to retain trading rights to Fryer, Thomas and Thompson, because they probably would bring suitable recompense if they did not make the active or the inactive list.
Some players could be kept on the Redskins' injured-reserve list if certifiably incapacitated.
Traing-camp squads must be cut to 60 by Aug. 9, to 52 by Aug. 30, to 48 by Sept. 6, and to 43 by Sept. 12. The opening game is Sept. 18.
There is no limit in the number of players that can be taken to training camp. There may be more free agents this year because of the reduction of the draft from 17 to 12 rounds, but they will cost more now under the new labor contract.