The recent collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association prompted some clubs to increase salary offers to some veterans who played out their options last season. There was no rush to top those offers by prospective bidding clubs.
Guard Paul Laaveg, middle linebacker Harold McLinton, and offensive tackle Tim Stokes received no bids from other clubs to top the salaries offered by the Redskins and presumably will play here again next season.
The Los Angeles Rams disclosed that no other teams had made bids for seven of their veterans by Friday midnight's deadline, including some high-quality performers.
The seven were wide receiver Harold Jackson, running back Cullen Bryant, middle linebacker Jack Reynolds guard Tom Mack, placekicker Tom Dempsey, safety Steve Preece and tight end Charles Young.
The Rams had traded with the Philadelphia Eagles for the first-refusal rights to Young by sending them quarterback Ron Jaworski, who had played out his option with the Rams.
Seven St. Louis Cardinals played out their options: middle linebacker Greg Hartle, cornerback Norm Thompson, defensive end Bob Bell, guard Keith Wortman, linebacker Ray White, safety Clarence Duren and running back Eddie Moss.
Hartle attracted from the Redskins a salary offer below the level that would bring the Cardinals a draft choice, but St. Louis still let him go to Washington.
Thompson was let go to the Baltimore Colts for a No. 3 draft choice. The Cardinals exercised their right to match an offer from Green Bay and kept Wortman Bell attracted an offer below the level requiring compensation for Cardinals, and St. Louis exercised its right to meet the offer from an unnamed club and kept him.
White and Duren received no salary offers from other clubs. Moss received no salary offer from the Cardinals, so they did not maintain the right to match a bid from another club.
Those option-playouts who did not receive offers from new clubs may be signed by their old clubs for the last written bids made to them before they became fee agents.
Or the option-playout may sign a one-year contract with no option-year clause, at not less than 110 per cent of his previous salary.
If the old club does not exercise its right to sign him by July 1, he is a free agent and no compensation or right to match subsequent offers applies, if the lands with another club.
Option-playouts who did receive bids from new clubs must now wait until mid-night Friday until the old clubs decide whether they will exercise their rights to match those offers.
Some clubs negotiating with veterans who are considering playing out their options in 1977 are being advised to wait and see what happens to the current crop of playouts.
The hestitation of new clubs in making bids to last season's playouts is expected to reflect a leveling -off of high salaries.
One reason is that new provisions for rookies' salaries in the bargaining agreement must be allowed for in the clubs' budgets.
It is expected that veterans coming up to negotiations of new contracts may regard the rookie minimums as a sort of wage-scale guide for themselves.
A rookie must be offered at least $20,000 in a one-year contract, with $22,000 in the option year.
A rookie signing a two-year contract must be paid at least $25,000 the first year, $30,000 the second.
A rookie signing a three-year contract must be paid at least $30,000, $40,000 and $50,000.
A rookie signing a four-year contract must be paid at least $40,000, $45,000, $55,000 and $60,000.
Thus if a three-year veteran, for instance, is negotiating a new contract he will probably insist that he be paid at least $60,000 for his fourth year in the league, on the basis of already having proved himself as valuable as an untested rookie for the same year of service.