Mike Curtis, the former all-Pro middle linebacker and a veteran of 12 National Football League seasons, signed with the Washington Redskins yesterday and was in uniform for last night's preseason game against the Jets.
Curtis, 34, placed on waivers by the Seattle Seahawks last Tuesday, was considered a free agent after all 27 other teams failed to claim him off the waiver list.
Curtis signed a one-year contract with no option clause for a salary reportedly in the $70,000 t $80,000 range. His salary in Seattle was reported to have been in the area of $150,000 a year.
To make room for Curtis, the Redskins placed cornerback Skip Sharpe on waivers.
Curtis met with Redskin coach George Allen Thursday and was given a tryout at Redskin Park. Allen said then he was impressed with Curtis' physical condition and his 4.7-second speed in the 40-yard dash.
Curtis, 6-foot-2 and 238 pounds, can play at either outside linebacker or middle linebacker, a major factor in the Redskin's decision to sign him. Their outside linebackers have been plagued by injuries and illness.
Curtis may start at outside linebacker in the Redskins' season opener next Sunday against the New York Giants. He would replace Chris Hanburger, who is not expected to be sufficiently recovered from an emergency appendectomy operation last week until the second game against Atlanta.
Curtis, who started all 14 games for Seahawks last year and was one of cocaptains, lost his jobs this season 30-year-old Ken Geddes. Seahawk each Jack Patera said he released Curtis because he didn't think the veteran all-pro could stand sitting on the bench.
Curtis is a graduate of Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville and played college football at Duke. With the Colts, he earned the nickname "Mad Dog" and was a vital force in Baltimore's glory years.
His interception set up the winning field goal in the Colts' 16-13 Super Bowl victory over the Dallas Cowboys in 1971 and he was named most valuable player in that game.
The waiving of Sharpe left the Redskins with no reserve cornerbacks for last night's game.
The Redskins apparently believe that Pat Fisher, who was not supposed to play last night, can recover from a pinched nerve in his back and possibly start playing again in the season opener.
Sharpe joined the Redskins early in training camp after being placed on waivers by the Philadelphia Eagles.Sharpe played college football at Kansas and was taken by the Eagles in the fifth round of the 1977 draft. The Redskins still could get him back again next week if no other team claims him. He had done fairly well on the special teams, though he was several years away from being as NFL cornerback.