If Terry Metcalf agrees to the latest Redskin contract offer, he could be signed by the club as early as today, it was learned last night.

Metcalf was impressive enough during a one-day tryout yesterday at the Redskins' minicamp to convinced the team he should be signed, but only at the terms proposed yesterday to the player and his attorney, Richard Bennett.

Although the Redskins have still left open the possibility they could change their mind and withdraw their offer to Metcalf, it is unlikely they will exercise that option.

But it is less certain how quickly Metcalf will decide to sign. He could reject the Redskin offer, or he might choose to postpone a decision until the weekend.

If Metcalf is signed, the Redskins will send a 1982 fifth-round draft choice to the St. Louis Cardinals as compensation. The Cardinals keep that pick even if Metcalf later is cut from Washington.

Metcalf needed two practices sessions at the minicamp to win over the Redskins. He passed his 40-yard dash test and then displayed enough of his old quickness during team drills to draw praise from both General Manager Bobby Beathard and Coach Joe Gibbs. Both men acknowledged Metcalf was not the same player that starred in the NFL five years ago, but he still had impressive ability.

"He looked quick out there, he really did," Gibbs said. "But before I make up my mind on him, I want to have a chance to look at the films and study them. I didn't have a chance to watch him that closely with so many people around."

Beathard, who has remained skeptical for months regarding how far Metcalf's ability has slipped since he last played for the St. Louis Cardinals three years ago, admitted that the veteran halfback looked better than in many of the Canadian Football League game films.

"I saw some things I liked from Terry," Beathard said. "But it's hard to tell; you always wondered if the team he played on in Canada was that bad or if Terry had left it."

Said cornerback Lemar Parrish: "Terry still can play, you can see that. He's got his quickness and he can catch the ball. What else do you need to do?"

"I'm happy the way they've treated me," Metcalf said about the Redskins after his one-day tryout. "But I wouldn't want to be around here if they don't want me. I thought things went well today. I was a little jittery but it was great to get out there and participate. This is where I want to be. I have a good feeling about what has happened."

The Redskins chose not to release Metcalf's 40-yard dash time. But to remain in consideration, he had to run it in 4.7 or less. He met that requirement, probably without much to spare. "I wish I had run it faster," he said. "But getting out here at 8:30 in the morning is kind of early."

Metcalf wasn't the only halfback on display yesterday. Joe Washington, newly acquired fromn the Baltimore Colts, joined the Redskins for the first time, although he also is involved in contract negotiations.

"I was happy with the trade when it happened and I'm even happier now," Washington said. "This was one of the teams I wanted to play for and being with Coach Gibbs has got to be great."

Washington is entering the option year of his contract. Beathard said he thought he would be able to sign Washington without the need for prolonged negotiation. Washington agreed.

Coy Bacon called Gibbs Wednesday and told him he would report for the start of the minicamp, but the veteran defensive end didn't show at Redskin Park. He is unsigned for the coming season.

The University of North Carolina has established a fund for punter Steve Streater, the Redskin free agent who was hurt in a car accident last week.