New York Jets cornerback Jerry Holmes has signed a tentative contract with the Pittsburgh Maulers, a spokesman for the United States Football League expansion team has confirmed.

Holmes, 25, will be eligible to play for the Maulers in 1984 after he finishes this year with the Jets, which open the NFL season today in San Diego . . .

The only reason former Baltimore Colts quarterback Art Schlichter refrained from betting on his own team was because "it was a lousy team," according to a published interview with the bookmaker who admitted handling Schlichter's bets.

Sam Alascia, one of three Baltimore men convicted of taking wagers from Schlichter, a confessed compulsive gambler, told the Chicago Tribune that he handled bets totaling tens of thousands of dollars on virtually every other National Football League team. Schlichter was suspending indefinitely by NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle for violating league rules that prohibit players from betting on league games or associating withg anyone connected with illegal betting.

Alascia told the newspaper Schlichter routinely called him from a pay telephone in the Baltimore locker room just minutes before game time. An investigator in the case said several teammates saw Schlichter spending so much time at the phone that they once removed the player's belongings from his locker and put them in the phone booth.