Redskins General Manager Bobby Beathard arrived at training camp today and gave this glum update about unsigned cornerback Jeris White:
"Howard (Slusher, White's agent) has told me that Jeris won't play for the Redskins this year . . . We've done whatever we can (with the contract offer) and I've already given them that message," Beathard said.
"I've talked to the coaches about it. It's always open-ended for Jeris to come back. At this stage, it will have to be on our terms. If he wants to play, fine. But apparently, under the terms of our proposal, he won't."
Asked if Slusher had made the same threat of a season-long holdout before the 1981 season, when White held out for four weeks before signing and reporting in late August, Beathard said, "Really, I can't remember."
Slusher once again did not return phone calls from his southern California office. Last season, White earned $185,000, fourth-highest salary on the Redskins. White, who would be entering his 10th season in the National Football League, his fourth with the Redskins, is not commenting on the subject, either.
"I'm a firm believer in not worrying about something that's not in your control," said Coach Joe Gibbs. "This is out of my hands . . . I'm also an optimist. I hope something can still be worked out with Jeris. If not, the only recourse is to give someone else a chance."
Beathard added, "These things happen to every team in the league. When they happen, you don't sit around and mope. Right now, training camp is two days old and it's too early to make any evaluation. But one thing Richie (Petitbon, defensive coordinator) told me today is 'Hey, the little guy (Darrell Green, 5-foot-8, rookie cornerback drafted in first round) is going to be all right.' Besides his great abilities, he has shown great leadership so far."
In another development, Warren Moon, the 26-year-old quarterback who has led the Edmonton Eskimos to five consecutive Grey Cup titles in the Canadian Football League, said he might like to play for the Redskins. Moon said his current contract runs out at the end of this CFL season, which ends with the Grey Cup game in late November.
"Playing in an offense like Joe Gibbs', well, that really appeals to me. The Redskins are a great team and I really like their attitude," said Moon, former University of Washington star, who completed 333 of 562 passes last year for 5,000 yards in the Eskimos' pass-happy offense. He threw for 36 touchdowns and was intercepted 16 times last year.
"It's not like I'm desperate to leave here . . . But I have other goals. I'd like to win a Super Bowl. I'm going to really look at the end of this season at every possibility--the USFL and the NFL," said Moon, who is 6-foot-2, 200 pounds. "I'm originally from Los Angeles, so the West Coast appeals to me some. The East Coast appeals to me in terms of exposure. Right now, I think I've got pretty good bargaining power.
"I'm 26, probably the right age to play now, but I'm looking at NFL teams that might need a backup. I was looking at Washington basically because Joe Theismann (who turns 34 the week of the season-opener) is getting up in age."
Though Moon said he informed his agent, Leigh Steinberg, several months ago that he would like to play with the Redskins, Washington officials say they had not known of Moon's interest.
"It's really a hypothetical question. I have never been around or known him," Coach Joe Gibbs said of Moon. Besides Theismann, the Redskins have three other quarterbacks on their roster: Tom Owen, a 10-year veteran; Bob Holly, a second-year player; and rookie Babe Laufenberg, drafted in the sixth round from Indiana.
"Our quarterback situation right now is one that we are happy with," Gibbs said.
"We think Warren Moon is a great quarterback," said Beathard, shrugging, as though the possibility of Moon ever playing for Washington is doubtful. He, too, did not know of Moon's interest in the Redskins. "But I would have to wait and see."
Charles Casserly, Redskins assistant general manager who is in charge of scouting western Canada, said of Moon, "He is without a doubt the best quarterback in Canada and he is as good a running quarterback as there is in any pro league.
"But up to this point, he has been primarily a rollout quarterback with a minority of dropback experience. He excels at rolling out, throwing on the run, using the wider field, taking advantage of the way the Canadian game is played.
"But in our league, he has to be able to drop back, sit and read, then scramble. He has never done that before . . . This will be a key year for Warren Moon to show the NFL people what he can do."
Beathard stressed the importance of signing Redskins players before they reach their option year. "That's so the thought of the contract doesn't run through your head or the player's head all season," he said. Beathard noted that three Redskins now are entering their option year: wide receiver Alvin Garrett, center Jeff Bostic and defensive end Mat Mendenhall.
There has been some confusion with Garrett's case. "We thought we had an agreement," Beathard said. "Then, all of a sudden, we didn't."
Beathard said he will meet next week with Jack Mills, Bostic's agent, and that he "expects no problem" with signing Mendenhall . . .
Redskins veterans are due to report next Saturday, the same day the rookies will scrimmage against the Baltimore Colts at Memorial Stadium at 1 p.m.