The Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins were 15th among the National Football League's 28 clubs in average base salaries paid to players last season, according to figures compiled by the NFL Players Association. The Redskins' average contract had a base salary of $91,284.
The Denver Broncos, whose average base salary was $118,460, were the highest-paying club and the Baltimore Colts, with the worst record and the youngest team in the league, were the lowest paying at $69,465.
Average team salaries, average salaries by position and individual salaries in 1,630 NFL contracts for 1982 were compiled in a 37-page booklet and distributed to the players by the NFLPA. The figures did not include bonus or incentive pay, and the contract salaries did not reflect pay that was lost because of the 57-day strike. This was the first time the union had provided individual salaries to its members. In years past, the union had provided salaries by position, without naming names.
Ed Garvey, executive director of the union, said the figures were distributed "as a natural follow-up to the collective bargaining process.
"We wanted to get this out while the players were negotiating their new contracts," Garvey said. "It's extraordinarily important. They can look at players of comparable talent on other teams to see how they are doing. It takes some of the mystery out of it."
Joe Theismann, who quarterbacked the Redskins to a 27-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins in the Super Bowl and the National Football Conference team in the Pro Bowl, was 17th among the NFL's quarterbacks with a base salary of $275,000. But Theismann did not appear upset by that.
"Everybody's got to make their own deal," he said.
Theismann said he had not yet seen a copy of the NFLPA's booklet. "I'd like to take a look at it and see who's making what and see where I fit in."
Then Theismann asked what the NFL's five top-paid quarterbacks were making. Informed that Philadelphia's Ron Jaworski was in fifth place (tied with Jim Plunkett of the Los Angeles Raiders) at $400,000, Theismann said, "Oh God!"
According to union figures, Houston quarterback Archie Manning was the highest paid player in the NFL with a base salary of $600,000. Cleveland linebacker Tom Cousineau was second at $500,000 and New Orleans quarterback Ken Stabler third at $450,000. John Riggins was the highest paid of the Redskins, earning $330,000 last year.
The Redskins' lowest-paid player was Scott Montana, a rookie defensive back who was on injured reserve all season. He earned $30,000, the league minimum for rookies. The lowest-paid starter was linebacker Mel Kaufman, who got $40,000.
According to NFLPA calculations, the average base salary for 1982 was $90,412, a 14 percent increase over the 1981 average of $79,592. The union estimated that 23 percent of the league's gross revenue went to pay players, but a spokesman for the NFL Management Council, the league's labor negotiating arm, said that when signing and other bonuses are included in the figures, the percentage would be much higher. Until just before going on strike last fall, the union had demanded that 55 percent of gross revenue go to player salaries.
Figures indicated that, for teams as a whole, paychecks had little to do with on-field performance. The American Football Conference champion Dolphins were 17th, two places behind the Redskins, with an average salary of $87,177. The San Francisco 49ers, winners of last year's Super Bowl, were 16th with an average salary of $90,859.
Of the seven highest-paying teams, four--the Broncos, Rams, Bills and Eagles--failed to make the playoffs.
Redskins General Manager Bobby Beathard, noting that the union had won access to all player contracts as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, said he was not surprised individual salaries had been compiled and distributed.
"I didn't think it was a secret," said Beathard. "But it could cause problems. It could cause problems in any business if people published the salaries of all the employes."
Garvey said the union's executive committee had decided to make individual salaries available to union members. He said the list probably would be updated annually and that next year he hopes to include signing and other bonuses in the totals. CAPTION: Picture, John Riggins is Redskins' best paid at $330,000 base salary. Chart, 1982 Redskins' Base Salaries