Two Washington Redskins veterans are close to signing new contracts, it was learned today.
Running back John Riggins is scheduled to meet with owner Jack Kent Cooke Monday and is expected to come to an agreement on a new contract.
Meanwhile, Mark Moseley's attorney said the kicker has reached an agreement on a three-year contract sources valued at $730,000 in base salary.
Riggins, who is asking for a one-year deal believed to be worth more than $1 million, could not be reached for comment. Cooke declined to comment on the Riggins negotiations, except to say he believed they would end in an agreement "soon."
Moseley is expected to arrive at the Redskins' Dickinson College training camp around noon Monday, attorney John Kovin said. Moseley could not be reached for comment.
Apparently, the $730,000 figure, which does not include possible incentives and bonuses, would make Moseley the highest paid kicker in the National Football League, at least in terms of base salary.
Moseley, 37, broke a bone in his right hand about three weeks ago in the Redskin Park weight room but is expected to be able to practice as usual. Kovin said Moseley probably will sign his contract and start working out either Monday afternoon or Tuesday.
That will signal the beginning of what is expected to be an intense battle with 25-year-old Tony Zendejas, the Redskins' top choice a year ago in the NFL's supplemental draft who signed a three-year contract earlier this month.
Zendejas, who played the last two seasons for the Los Angeles Express of the U.S. Football League, arrived Friday night and already has practiced twice at Biddle Field.
Riggins and Moseley were not the only ones missing from training camp today. Coach Joe Gibbs left to meet with Cooke at the owner's Middleburg, Va., estate. The topic of their meeting was not known, but sources said they discussed the team's unsigned veterans -- Riggins, Moseley and defensive tackle Dave Butz -- as well as holdout rookie cornerback Tory Nixon.
Cooke and Butz are scheduled to meet at the team's training camp Tuesday to negotiate, but indications are now that a snag may have developed in those plans. Butz, who has made two trips from his Belleville, Ill., home to the Washington area in the past five months to negotiate with Cooke, apparently is concerned that he still has not received a firm contract offer from the team and may wait until he gets one before he travels east.
Butz, reached at home tonight, would not comment on his contract talks.
The only offer he has, Butz said last week, is the team's $253,000 qualifying offer, which represents the standard 10 percent increase over his old contract of $230,000.
Butz is asking for a two-year contract. The terms have not been disclosed.
There also has been no progress in talks with Larry Muno, Nixon's agent, General Manager Bobby Beathard said. Negotiations broke off with the two sides no more than $60,000 apart (Nixon's request of $1,040,000 for four years to the Redskins' offer of $980,000), but it doesn't appear the Redskins are in any particular hurry to get them started again.
It's possible the impressive training-camp performances of several rookies, among them cornerback Barry Wilburn and free safety Raphel Cherry, have cooled the Redskins' interest in Nixon, their top pick (33rd overall) in the 1985 NFL draft.
Moseley's signing will open a different drama, one to be played out not in phone calls and meetings but in hundreds of practice field goals over the next several weeks.
Things got off to a smashing start in the team's weight room. Moseley actually broke the bone in his hand as he joked about his competition with Zendejas.
"Moseley was clowning around with me in the weight room," Joe Bugel, assistant head coach-offense, said today. "He said, 'Tony Zendejas -- I'm ready, boy,' and hit the back of a weight machine with a closed fist. He grimaced and laughed, so I thought he was all right. The next day I heard he was in the hospital.
"I'm just glad it wasn't his kicking foot," Bugel added, laughing.
Head trainer Bubba Tyer said Moseley had his hand wrapped in a gauze bandage and did not require a cast.
Zendejas, who led the USFL in field goals this past season with 26, sounded a warning to Moseley today before rattling field goals high off a tall photographer's scaffold 15 yards behind the goal post.
"I hope he's in the best shape he can be in, because I'm in pretty good shape," Zendejas said. "I'm not nervous. I'm not worried about what Mark Moseley will do out here. I think I can pretty much dictate what happens by how I do."
Were it able to be snapped, held and kicked through the uprights, Zendejas' confidence might run as long as some of his field goals -- with good reason.
Earlier this month, Zendejas received a six-figure signing bonus from the Redskins. Indications are his total contract is worth about $600,000 for three years.
Although Moseley's contract calls for more money, it's uncertain how much of it -- if any -- is guaranteed. One of the sticking points in his negotiations apparently was the issue of guaranteed payments, including a signing bonus.
Zendejas said he believes he has an advantage over Moseley in that he also kicks off but Moseley does not.
"I picture myself making it here," Zendejas said. "I don't see myself being anything but No. 1."