Both the Washington Redskins and quarterback Joe Theismann have made revised contract offers that have resulted in the first significant movement in the lengthy and often bitter negotiations between the two sides.
It appears that the gap between the two sides probably has been cut in half, to around $200,000, although neither Theismann's agent, Ed Keating, nor General Manager Bobby Beathard would comment on the salary figures.
According to Keating, the Redskins increased their original four-year, $1.4 million offer by adding performance incentives. Keating and Theismann then came back with a new proposal which, Keating said, "reflects substantial reductions on our part" that lowered their initial $1.8 million bid.
Keating said the differences now between the Redskin offer and Theismann's demand "is really minuscule, really minuscule. I can't believe they don't feel it is very attractive.
"I'm sure they will want to make adjustments and there is still a little room in our offer for movement. But we have really come back with our best shot. We want to get this finished as soon as possible, and I think now we can."
Keating said that Theismann's proposal would seem inadequate "and the Redskins, looking back, will say they got quite a deal . . . But we don't have options. We sent out seven letters to teams telling them Joe was a free agent, and we got two responses and both said 'not interested.'
"We are just bowing to pressure, but Joe can live with the offer, he thinks it's fair and that's what we hope the Redskins will tell us, too."
Beathard said that he was happy that some movement had occurred in the talks. But he said he was not as encouraged as Keating about an immediate resolution of the negotiations.
"There has been some progress," Beathard said, "but we certainly aren't ready to sign any contract. I think there is a lot of negotiating left to be done."
The two sides have held only one formal negotiating session since the end of the season. The difficulties in agreeing to a contract have caused problems on both sides. Theismann, in particular, has wondered how much value he really has to a team that has not tried seriously to sign its No. 1 quarterback.
But Beathard has maintained the Redskins are being fair with their proposal, which would pay Theismann around $255,000 his first season and $400,000 by the end of the contract.
Keating said he thought Theismann was doing "the honorable thing" by trying to get the negotiations resolved.
"We told the Redskins we are being straight with them, that if we can get this particular package, let's get this over with. Joe is concerned that he should be studying film, and doing other things to start getting ready for next season. He doesn't want to get behind."