The Washington Redskins waived veteran safety Mark Murphy yesterday, leaving him free to make a deal with any National Football League team.
"It's over," General Manager Bobby Beathard said. "He and his lawyer asked us to make him a free agent, and we did. If he is not picked up on waivers, he will become a free agent."
Murphy said that even if he is claimed by another team, he has the right as a vested veteran to sign with any team he chooses under terms of the current players' collective bargaining agreement with the NFL. He also confirmed that the Buffalo Bills have expressed interest in him "and we're talking."
Murphy, a Pro Bowl free safety in 1983 who missed nine games last season with a knee injury and never regained his starting job, skipped the team's May minicamp when the Redskins would not give him the guarantees of playing time and money that he wanted. He has been accepted to Georgetown University Law School but said yesterday he would like to continue playing.
"All things considered, this is the best thing that could have happened," Murphy said. "Early in the offseason, I approached the Redskins and wanted to know if I was in their plans. They said, 'You'll have to prove yourself.' The next step was for me to ask for some things that would at least show I was in their plans, things they've done for lots of other players. They just said no, no, no."
Murphy declined to be specific on his demands, but insisted that he was not asking for a fully guaranteed contract. "Not even close to it," he said. "I was accepted to law school, and I didn't want to go to camp, get cut and wind up missing the first year. Their failure to consider all our proposals showed me they didn't have any plans for me."
After several months of meetings, Coach Joe Gibbs had announced Thursday that the Redskins were seeking to trade Murphy, an eight-year veteran who turns 30 today. "After what Joe said yesterday, I was a little surprised by being put on waivers," Murphy said, "but I'm just glad it's over. That was always the worst part, not knowing what they were going to do.
"I wish I knew why this happened," Murphy said, declining comment on speculation that his activities as a union leader during the 1982 strike season may have been a factor. "I just know I'm 30, I'm healthy and at the peak of my career. I think I'm in a good situation. If it doesn't work out, I'll go to law school.
"I've loved playing for the Redskins and I'm sorry it's ended. We've got the greatest fans in football, and I'll miss that. I've given a lot to this team, but I've also gotten a lot from the people in this city. It's been wonderful."
Murphy's agent, John Houser of ProServ in Washington, called Bills General Manager Terry Bledsoe yesterday morning.
"It was a short conversation and I made a noncommital comment," Bledsoe said. "Our training camp opens next week and, obviously, we're not looking to make wholesale additions to our roster. But we will look into the situation.
"I don't want to do this in the papers," he added.
Houser was not available for comment.
Beathard spoke with Bledsoe recently about a possible trade for Murphy. "Our feeling was we couldn't get anything for him," Beathard said.
But Beathard said he tried to persuade Murphy not to become a free agent.
"His lawyer (Houser) asked, and we refused to do it at first," Beathard said. "Then he asked again, and we granted him his wish."
Said Murphy, "It's hard for a player to end his career the way he wants to. Right now, I'd just love to find a great situation, go to a winner and help them. I know I can still play, but if it doesn't work out, I'll just get on with the rest of my life."