An informal vote was taken today among management officials of the National Football League's 28 teams on whether to expand the current 45-player roster to 49 players, it was learned. Each team cabled in its vote to the league office. Officials in the league office denied knowledge of the vote.
When confronted on the subject today, Bobby Beathard, Redskins general manager, confirmed that the Redskins had cabled in their vote this morning.
The Redskins are one of the NFL's stronger proponents of raising the roster limit to 49. Many NFL officials have expressed fear that if rosters remain at 45, those four extra players per team might very well be signed by the U.S. Football League.
In a vote taken on roster size at the league meeting in Tampa in March, 17 teams voted in favor of a 49-man roster. However, a three-fourths majority (21 votes) was needed to pass the motion. Recently, there has been a strong undercurrent throughout the NFL that several of the teams that had voted for a 45-man roster in March have since changed their minds.
Reports that that defensive end Dexter Manley, unhappy with his current contract, has been talking to the Chicago Blitz and the Houston Gamblers of the U.S Football League do not seem to worry Beathard. "I don't think anything about them," Beathard said of the reports. "Dexter's been talking about that for awhile. But Dexter has told us he really wants to stay here. I believe his sincerity."
Manley, entering the final year of a three-year contract that will pay him the $60,000 minimum salary this year, is now represented by Richard Bennett, a Washington attorney. Manley recently dismissed Jim Kiles, another Washington attorney, as his representative.
"We haven't made an offer to Dexter. We're not at an impasse. We just haven't done anything," Beathard said. He added that he received a three-year contract proposal from Bennett last week. "I'll probably talk to Rick (Tuesday)," Beathard said.
The Redskins trimmed their roster to 82 today by cutting wide receiver Harold Brown, a rookie free agent, and cornerback Leo Gray, free agent cornerback signed from the Canadian Football League.