Mark May, the Washington Redskins' starting right offensive tackle considering an offer to switch to the U.S. Football League, arrived here late today for a "get-acquainted" visit with the New Jersey Generals at their training camp.
May dined with Jim Valek, the club's vice president/general manager, and said they "talked extensively" about the possibility of filling the Generals' need for a right tackle.
"They're interested and obviously so am I, or else I wouldn't be here," May said. "It's a question of looking at a different alternative."
May, who became a free agent Friday, said the visit is not an indication he is dissatisfied with the Redskins, with whom he is negotiating through attorney Ralph Cindrich. But he added that the Generals present an appealing opportunity. Sources have said New Jersey's offer is approximately $400,000 annually for three years.
"We've talked to the Redskins," May said. "It's not that I'm using this as a bargaining tool. This is for business, not for fun. It's my livelihood. I've been offered an opportunity, so now instead of one decision to make, I've got two. It's going to come down to what's best for Mark May."
May also met with Coach Walt Michaels and visited with former Redskins running back Clarence Harmon, now a Generals veteran. May will watch practice Monday and undergo a physical before returning to Washington at his leisure. His first impressions of the Generals, he said, were good.
"I'm going to try to get a feeling for the league," the 6-foot-6, 295-pound lineman said. "As far as I can see, it's first class. The Generals are the Rolls-Royce of the USFL, no question. I was surprised. It's very close (in style) to our (the Redskins') camp."
Valek confirmed earlier in the day that he had been in touch with Cindrich but said there would be no direct negotiations with May while he is here. May declined to discuss any figures that have been discussed by both the Redskins and Generals.
"Some things have been mentioned, but that's for later," he said. "Right now I'm just taking a good look around."
From his Oakton, Va., home, Redskins General Manager Bobby Beathard said May informed him Saturday of plans to visit the Generals.
"He said he'd come back tomorrow (Monday) or the next day," Beathard said. "He said he'd do nothing without talking to us. I expect him to talk to us when he gets back. I take Mark at his word that he'll call when he gets back."
May earned $160,000 last season. The Redskins made him a qualifying offer at the minimum for a four-year veteran, according to Beathard, not the $180,000 figure that has been reported. The qualifying offer, said Beathard, "has nothing to do with the offer we make in negotiations."
Beathard said $180,000 was not the Redskins' current offer. He said the Redskins' offer was higher but declined to be more specific.
Beathard said he was unsure what the Redskins' chances were of retaining May, who must make a decision quickly because the Generals open their season in three weeks.
"It depends on what the priorities are," Beathard said. "I think Mark wants to play for the Redskins. I don't know what their (the Generals') offer is, so I can't tell you . . . . His home is here. His offices are here. So I think our chances are good. But nowadays you never know."