While Coach Joe Gibbs drills his Redskin players in the opening session of his first Washington minicamp today, General Manager Bobby Beathard will be holding a meeting inside the Redskin Park offices that could prove just as crucial to the team's future.
Beathard and the rest of the scouting department will review Redskin draft possibilities, which changed dramatically Tuesday when the club closed a trade with the Los Angeles Rams that exchanged first-round drafting position and added a second and fourth-round pick to Washington's selections.
"This is a very important time because of how the trade changes things," Beathard said. "We had not worked out some players because we knew we wouldn't pick them when we had the ninth choice in the first round.
"But now that we are picking 20th, this means that we have to look at this differently. We have to decide what players we need to work out that we've passed on, both for the first round and the other rounds we picked up in the trade. Then all the scouts will go back into the field and start working toward draft day (April 28). We want to make sure we know what players we could be selecting in the first round."
Beathard was busy yesterday trying to sign the team's six free agents. Those who aren't signed by today won't be allowed to participate in the practice sessions.
Although Gibbs had been optimistic that all players would take part in the minicamp, he has found out differently. Defensive end Coy Bacon, who led the team in sacks last year, will now show up because contract talks have not started, according to Beathard. And quarterback Kim McQuilken is expected to announce his retirement.
Beathard felt that three other free agents, halfback Ike Forte, center Dan Peiffer and guard Dan Nugent, would be signed by today. But the club and halfback Bobby Hammond still had not reached agreement.
"I don't know if Bobby will be signed in time," Beathard said. "As as for Coy, his lawyer was having trouble getting in touch with him so we could start talking. I think he can be signed but that appears to be down the road."
Beathard is convinced the trade with the Rams has put the Redskins back into the draft business. He said he was so excited after it took place that he worked two hours later that night reviewing potential picks.
Before the deal, the Redskins had only two choices in the key first five rounds. Now they have selections in all but the third round. Beathard said he will try to make other moves to land the missing pick.
"I think we can come out of the first five rounds with at least one player for all of our needy positions," he said. "That wasn't the case before. We were more in a corner. Now if we don't get a defensive lineman on the first round, we can maybe pick one up on a leter round. It gives you more options. There are more than 50 good players available this year. Now we can get at least two of them."
But the trade makes Beathard less certain whom he can draft in that opening segment. He says he most likely will seek an offensive lineman, running back or wide receiver.
Top-caliber players likely to be available that late in the first round are:
Wide receivers: Cris Collinsworth, Florida; Mark Nichols, San Jose State, and Bobby Duckworth, Arkansas.
Running backs: Jarvis Redwine, Nebraska; Joe Delaney, NW Louisiana, and James Brooks, Auburn.
Offensive line: Curt Marsh, Washington; Howard Richards, Missouri, and Nick Eyre, Brigham Young.
If Beathard can draft five players who make the team, he'll be satisfied. Add those five to the young players who were on the team's 1980 injured reserve list and as many as nine new faces could be in Washington uniforms this season, a much-needed transfusion for the aging club.