In the two years since George Allen was fired as coach and general manager of the Washington Redskins, the club has reduced its player payroll by $200,000, in the face of significant increases around the National Football League.
In 1977, the Redskins led the league with a payroll of $3.6 million for active players and those on injured reserve. This year, the Redskins rank in the middle of the NFL pack.
The average salary in the NFL increased 13 percent last year and is expected to rise similarly this season.
According to league sources, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots now vie for league leadership in salary, with payrolls in excess of $4 million.
At the time of a similar salary survey by The Washington Post in 1977, the Redskins had the ninth best record in the NFL and did not make the playoffs. Their current 6-3 record ties them for fourth-best record in the NFL and they are strong contenders to make the playoffs.
The Redskins' average salary is about $65,000 this season; the NFL average was $63,000 for the 1978 season. This year's average NFL salary has not been computed, but is expected to be in the $70,000 range.
The reduced payroll results from the retirements -- both voluntary and involuntary -- of a number of veteran, high-salaried players, from the signing of a number of rookies and free agents and from fewer players on injured reserve.
The 1977 Redskins had 13 players making an annual salary of $100,000 or more. The current Redskins have only six -- fullback John Riggins $300,000, quarterback Joe Theismann $150,000, tight end Jean Fugett $135,000, defensive tackle Diron Talbert $130,000, strong safety Ken Houston $125,000 and cornerback Lemar Parrish $125,000.
The 1977 Redskins included 25 players making at least $70,000; the current roster has 17. Twenty players on this year's active roster make $50,000 or less. In addition, all seven players on injured reserve fall into the same $50,000-or-less salary category.
These approximate figures, which do not include signing bonuses for first-year Redskins, were compiled from interviews with players, coaches and front-office personnel of the Redskins, as well as other NFL sources.
Player contracts also contain incentive clauses for such items as sacks and playing time. One source said the average incentives are calculated at about $35,000 per player. They are usually individual and not team incentives, such as a bonus for 10 wins or making the playoffs.
The Redskins' total player expenditures this season, however, total almost $4 million when the following categories are included:
Active players -- 45 with total salaries of $3,180,000.
Injured reserve -- seven players with salaries of $225,000.
Guarantees to waivered players -- $250,000 to quarterback Billy Kilmer and $100,000 to free safety Jake Scott.
Injury protection -- $37,500 to defensive tackle Bill Brundige, the maximum amount by contract to players who are unable to fulfill their contract because of injury.
Signed bonuses -- $170,000 to draft choices and free agents.
In addition, Coach Jack Pardee is paid $135,000 on the second year of a three-year contract and his eight assistants average about $40,000 per man.
The front office, which includes General Manager Bobby Beathard; Bobby Mitchell, the executive assistant to the president; three personnel directors; three scouts; two trainers, two publicity men; three doctors; a ticket manager, and about 15 others, accounts for another $770,000.
That brings the Redskins' total payroll to approximately $5.2 million. Revenues, including $5 million from the league contracts with television, are in the $12- $13 million range, sources said. The exact profit is not known, because operating expenses, including debt service is not available.
Despite the reduced player payroll, there were few gripes from players interviewed by The Post about a "shoestring budget." But there also was no talk of "football heaven," as Jake Scott once described life with Allen.
Defensive back Tony Peters, who had walked out of the Cleveland Browns' training camp this year before being traded to the Redskins, said Beathard had been fair with him. He said the team had renegotiated the final two years of his Cleveland contract to mutually acceptable terms.
"I'm happy with the way things have worked out here," Peters said.
"That was definitely one of my disagreements with Cleveland . . . For what I was being paid at Cleveland, I knew I could just go out and work hard and make just as much money."
Peters reportedly was making less than $40,000 at Cleveland. Sources say his current salary here is in the $60,000 range.
Another new Redskin is defensive tackle Paul Smith, who, in his younger years, was considered one of the NFL's best defensive linesmen with the Denver Broncos.
"From what I hear, everybody's pretty happy here," said Smith, a 12-year veteran. "Denver (also) paid well; they were one of the top 10 in the league."
Another new wrinkle in the Redskin payroll structure under Beathard is the outlay of sizable signing bonuses to rookies and free agents. One source said that the Redskins spent approximately $250,000 in this department this season, some of which went to players who did not make the team.
Beathard said that the $250,000 figure was high, but he did confirm that the Redskins put out more than $150,000 in signing bonuses.
The reason for signing bonuses? Rookies and young free agents under Allen were used to fill training camp roster. Few, if any, made the team.
"Now," said Beathard, "we're being selective. We're getting free agents who have a chance to make the team. We gave players we wanted what we had to give them to get them."
The Redskins probably will spend more in signing bonuses in the future, now that they will have a full draft for the first time in a decade. The big difference in salary among first-year players usually comes from the size of the bonus.
Another factor that should account for Redskin salaries rising in the future is the number of young players, many of whom are playing on one-year contracts. They take the chance that a good season for slightly less money now will result in a better contract in future years.
"I encourage rookies to sign one-year contracts," Beathard said. "It's unfair to be tied down to a multiyear contract to a low salary if you're producing.
"It's a chance to get more, no less. It makes for a better relationship between management and the players. Players find out about it. You want players happy and feeling they are paid fairly."
One of the most devisive situations in Allen's Redskin regime occurred when running back Mike Thomas signed a multiyear contract at a low salary, led the team in rushing his first year and then wanted to renegotiate his contract, which the Redskins refused.