Fullback John Riggins has told the Washington Redskins that he will play the 1982 season for his option year salary of $330,000 instead of negotiating a new contract.
Riggins, who has been making $300,000 a year, automatically gets a 10 percent raise during his option year as dictated by the collective bargaining agreement between the National Football League and the NFL Players Association. His $330,000 salary would maintain his standing as the highest paid player in team history, although that figure will be exceeded at the end of quarterback Joe Theismann's new four-year contract.
Under Redskin policy, players entering their option year can attempt to negotiate a new, longer term contract. If they refuse, they become free agents when the option year runs out. However, Washington still retains rights to the players the next season, and has the option of either matching contract offers from other teams or receiving compensation. In Riggins' case, the Redskins would be awarded two No. 1 draft choices.
General Manager Bobby Beathard said he approached Riggins, who is in town visiting friends, about starting negotiations for a new contract.
"But John told me he didn't want to go through the negotiation hassle, that we probably wouldn't pay him any more than his option year salary anyway, so why not just settle for that," Beathard said.
Two years ago, Riggins demanded to have his option year changed into a $500,000, one-year, guaranteed contract. The Redskins refused, and Riggins wound up sitting out the 1980 season. An arbitrator ruled last month that Riggins was not entitled to his back salary for that year. In the ruling, the arbitrator revealed that Riggins also asked for $150,000 to buy an insurance policy for protection in case he was injured.