No later than 1:15 a.m. today - after Tampa Bay selects running back Ricky Bell of Southern California - Tony Dorsett of Pittsburgh will learn which National Football League club probably is going to make him the highest-priced rookie of all time.
Running back Chuck Muncie received $1 million, to be spread over seven seasons, from the New Orleans Saints last year.
Heisman Trophy winner Dorsett is acclaimed as having more talent and box office appeal.
Until yesterday, the speculation was that the Seattle Seahawks, who pick second in the first round. Would trade off that choice to acquire proven veterans, particularly linemen.
But now, general manager John Thompson said. "We're leaning toward keeping our choice. Who we will take is what we are working on today; there is more than one good alternative to Dorsett. But don't rule out Dorssett."
The Seahawks are believed to want defensive tackle Mike Butler of Kansas Thompson said trade offers were still being made to the Seahawks, "but not nearly in the volume that rumors have suggested."
He said members of his organization have talked to Dorsett's agent. Mike Trope of Los Angeles. "What I hear he wants does not sound reasonable but that could change. You can expect him to shoot high."
Thompson was asked how many additional tickets Dorsett might sell. "He would sell a lot anywhere, particularly in Seattle. We figure to have about a 90 per cent renewal of season ticket sales.
"We expected some attrition, but now we have some new people buying them. Maybe Dorsett would take us back to where we were.
"We had three sellouts at home last season and averaged about 95 to 97 per cent of capacity. But Dorset could help us on the road, too, and we get 40 per cent of those ticket sales."
"Dan Rooney president of the Pittsburgh Steelers who has been expert at rebuilding the club through the draft took his team out of consideration for a trade for Seattle's No. 1 pick.
"I think Dorsett will go to Seattle," he said. "We were never of a mind to make a trade for Seattle's choice. We'd like to have Dorsett (who lives near Pittsburgh) but what it would take would not be worth wrecking our team for.
"As to Cincinnati, I think they want a lineman. We had heard Cincinnati was trying to deal to get Dorsett. We would be frantic if that were so - in our division."
Dorsett's agent has said the New York Jets have expressed an interest in the All-America. The Jets are used to high salaries having paid Joe Namath $450,000 each of the last two season. Hoowever, the Jets do not have much in the way of quality-veterans to trade for Seattle's No. 1 selection.
The Dallas Cowboys have admitted being interested in dealing with Seattle to draft Dorsett. If they landed Dorsett they would become top-heavy favorites in the Eastern Division. But the Cowboys are not known as a club that pass superstar salaries.
The New Orleans Saints, according to Trope, are interested in the Seahawks' top choice, but not to land Dorsett. The Saints are after a highcaliber offensive tackle, preferably Marvin Powell of Southern California.The Saints have a rich owner in John W. Mecom Jr., who could afford a high salary, but they do not have much to offer in a trade.
The Redskins have draft choices in the fourth, 10th, 11th and 12th rounds.
The NFL Management Council says there is no legal impediment to the draft, or a future risk to it, despite challenges in a Minneapolis federal court to settlement of suits as part of the new collective bargaining agreement.
The challenges apply only to the amount of cash involved in settling class-actions suits and the methods of distribution. When the players ratified the contract it became fully effective otherwise.