Coach Jack Pardee said yesterday the Redskins will make running back would allow the Redskins to receive compensation if another NFL team signed him.
Thomas played out his option during the 1978 season and will become a free agent on Feb. 1. Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, the Redskins must offer him a minimum of $50,000 as a qualifying offer by that same date.
Thomas could then try to negotiate a deal with any of the other 27 NFL teams. If another team signed Thomas, the Redskins would then have the right to match that offer, or accept compensation in draft choices.
Pardee was asked yesterday if he expected Thomas to be woth the Redskins next season, and he carefully avoided a direct answer even though the question was posed three different times.
"He has his rights and we have our right," Pardee said. "Sure, we'll make him an offer. He's a fine player and you have to protect yor rights. We're not going to give and players away.
"I thought Mike played well against Chicago. But whoever we have here next year, all the players we have will have to do a better job. They know me a little better and I know them. I know we've got to do a lot of strength work in the offseason.
"For us to be a better team, everybody's got to work and we have to have players who will do the work. Everyone has to work hard and practice hard.
"If Mike wants to do what it takes, fine. I'm not saying he didn't this year. You get into injury situations, and what can a player do? You have to do everything you can to prevent injuries. And if you if get injured, you have to work hard to rehabilitate. We've got to form better practive habits, too."
Pardee said again yesterday that he alson thought veteran quaterback Billy Kilmer will be back with the Redskins next season. "Bill's under contract," he said. "I'm sure he'll be back. We'll be working all our quaterbacks in training camp. The job will be open just like it was last year. I hope all the experiences Joe (Theismann) went through this year will help him next season. He played the last five games of the season pretty banged up. He took some shots in the Dallas game that hurt him more than anything.
"He was hit on the chest. I don't think it affected his throwing, but he was hurting. I'm sure he was unhappy about the Bear game (Theismann was pulled in favor of Kilmer with eight minutes left to play). He's a great competitor. He wanted to win. I was kind of dejected myself."
Some of the sting of Saturday's 14-10 defeat to Chicago was eased a bit when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Giants yesterday. The only way the Redskins could have made the playoffs would have been for them to defeat Chicago and Philadephia and either Green Bay or Minnesota lose yesterday.
Pardee and his staff will return to Redskin Park today with the coach's first priority assessing his team's injury situation.
Tight end Jean Fugett has saied he believes he will need surgery to repair his left knee. The same joint was operated on last March and plagued him all through the 1978 season.
Pardee, however, said he did not know for sure that surgery would be required, "but Jean needs at least a lot of strength work. He couldn't work consistently because of fatigue and swelling. I doubt if he'll need surgery, but he'll need a great rehabilitation program to avoid the problems he had this season..t"We want to clear up all the medical problems early. We want to make sure that if anyone needs an operation, they get it taken care of now, not March or April, so they'll be recovered in time for training camp."