There were 139 names on the National Football League's list of veterans who became free agents when their contracts expired yesterday, including that of Redskin kicker Mark Moseley. But quarterback controversies made most of the news.
Coach Red Miller of the Denver Broncos was so eager to try to resolve a problem at the position that he gave up No. 1 and No. 2 draft choices and a reserve quarterback, Craig Penrose, for another reserve quarterback, Matt Robinson of the New York Jets.
And, among the big-name veterans who played out the option years of their contracts and became free agents was Jim Hart of the St. Louis Cardinals, who was benched for the last three games of the 1979 season in a dispute that cost Coach Bud Wilkinson his job.
As expected, Moseley became a free agent, along with such players as wide receiver Harold Carmichael of the Philadelphia Eagles, wide receiver Issac Curtis of Cincinnati, running back Sam Cunningham and defensive back Mike Haynes, both of New England, and tight end Mike Barber of Houston.
Other Redskins on the list were tight end Jean Fugett, quarterback Kim McQuilken, defensive linemen Coy Bacon and Paul Smith, running back Ike Forte, defensive back Don Harris and offensive tackle Jim Harlan.
Fugett and Harlan became free agents with no strings attached because the Redskins did not make them qualifying offers. It previously was reported that Fugett would not be offered a new contract. Harlan was not offered one because he decided not to try for the team next season because of a neck injury.
The other six Redskins received qualifying offers from the team, which means they are only technically free agents. Those six may shop for offers from other clubs, but the Redskins may retain them by matching any offer.
If an offer by another club is not matched by the Redskins and a player leaves Washington, the new club most compensate the Redskins with a draft choice or choices, based on the departing player's new salary.
General Manager Bobby Beathard of the Redskins said Fugett was not offered a contract because he didn't figure in the team's plans for 1980. The team has three other tight ends -- Don Warren, Phil DuBois, and Grady Richardson.
Beathard said he expects to have no problem in signing Moseley. "He told me he wants to play," Beathard said. "He said he would talk when he got back from the Pro Bowl."
The general manager said that McQuilken, Forte, Bacon, Harris, Smith and Moseley became free agents because they had no option years on their contracts. Beathard said; "We want all of them and don't expect to lose any of them."
He added that "about 17 or 18" other Redskins will be going into their option years in 1980, which technically means they are under contract while they negotiate.
In Denver, Coach Miller of the Broncos said of the high price he paid for Robinson, who did not have a full season of experience with the Jets: "The Broncos made a bold, needed and good move. Only time will tell if the trade will be a steal for either team. We researched him (Robinson) diligently. You have to give something to get something."
Denver fans have been split over Craig Morton, 36, and Norris Weese, 28. Neither, apparently, is the answer to the quarterback problem.The coach said he was looking for a young quarterback (Robinson is 24) after the Broncos were eliminated from the '79 playoffs by Houston.
Jet fans had been vehemently divided over Richard Todd and Robinson. Todd, 26, was a No. 1 draft choice out of Alabama in 1976. Robinson was a No. 9 draft choice from Georgia in 1977.