The San Diego Chargers said yesterday that they expect to sign Lydell Mitchell, and Joe Washington's father said his son is in good condition and would like to play for the Baltimore Colts.
Yet, their were snags that kept the trade from becoming official, because it was described differently in some respects in the two versions sent to the National Football League.
Those snags were not made public, but there was concern that Mitchell's agent might ask for more money to play in California. The halfback has a lounge in Baltimore and fast-food franchise interests in New Jersey.
As announced, the Colts agreed to send Mitchell to San Diego for running back-kick returner Washington and a No. 5 draft choice. If Washington, who has had knee injuries, fails to pass a physical examination by the Colts, Baltimore will receive a No. 1 draft choice in addition to the No. 5.
Presumably, the Colts would not want Mitchell back if he did not sign with the Charges, because of the bitter atmosphere created by his charge of racial discrimination in negotiations with the Colts.
Mitchell did not have the right to approve or disapprove a trade in his current contract.
Baltimore owner Bob Irsay said he will file a defamation-of-character suit against Mitchell as the result of the running back filing a grievance suit with the NPL Players Association on the racial issue.
Previously, Mitchell's attorney, Lee Goldberg, said that, despite the trade, he was going to continue to pursue the racial grievance against the Colts. The play-club relations committee, compromised of two club owners and two players, voted, 4-0, to send the case to arbitration.
There was talk of a racial spilt on the Colt's squad last reason. Tight end Raymond Chester said he was not thrown enough passes. He was traded to Oakland.
John Sanders, general manager of the Chargers, said Mitchell will meet club officials at their game against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, N.J., tomorrow.
Mitchell reportedly would have earned $99,000 if he had played out this option year in his contract with the Colts. He asked Baltimore for a three-year contract at $200,000 annually.
The Colts were believed to have offered a new contract beginning at $130,000 a year, but he declined it.
At a grievence hearing Monday night, two Colt representatives were persuaded to make an offer and a three-year contract was proposed under which he would be paid $170,000 the first year, $195,000 the second and $200,000 the third, or an aggregate $565,000.
It was reported that the Chargers' offer for Mitchell was the best from among those by Oakland, Denver and Atlanta.
Since running back Washington of the Chargers was an All-America at Oklahoma and the fourth player selected in the NFL draft in 1976, he was thought to have received a five-year contract that included a $100,000 bonus for signing. His salary for this upcoming season is reported to be $50,000 by a source close to the trade. A neutral source said it more likely is $150,000.
That would put the Colts in a position of paying Washington more than Mitchell would have earned under his old contract this season, $99,000, plus an automatic 10 percent increases while playing out his option.
Mitchell, 29, did not miss a game because of injuries in his six seasons with the Colts. He has averaged more than 1,000 yards rushing the last three seasons and led the NFL in receptions last season with 71.