Today, the Washington Redskins were hoping to conclude negotiations with one, perhaps even two, of their three remaining unsigned players: John Riggins, Dave Butz and Tory Nixon.
Instead, they were stopped cold at the line of scrimmage.
For another day of training camp, there was absolutely no gain.
Negotiations with running back Riggins and defensive tackle Butz apparently still have not been resolved, despite the fact that both veterans met with owner Jack Kent Cooke this week.
And, when General Manager Bobby Beathard tried to call Larry Muno, Nixon's agent, tonight in Los Angeles to possibly conclude that deal, he found that Muno's home phone had been disconnected.
The Redskins continued to wait on word from Riggins, who has not called to accept or reject an offer he received Monday, according to sources.
Indications were that Cooke, who negotiates directly with Riggins, had expected to hear from the running back by today, although no official deadline was set.
Meanwhile, Butz was flying home to Belleville, Ill., this evening after meeting with Cooke at the owner's Middleburg, Va., estate. It appears likely the earliest Butz could arrive at the team's Dickinson College training site now is next week.
Butz was unavailable to comment, and Cooke declined to comment on either Butz's or Riggins' negotiations.
Terms of the offer to Butz were not available. He said earlier he wanted a two-year contract. The only offer he had received before his meeting with Cooke was the team's $253,000 qualifying offer, the standard 10 percent increase over his previous contract.
This was Butz's third trip east to negotiate since March. He apparently expressed concern about making today's trip unless he received a more concrete offer over the telephone. He did not receive such an offer but traveled to Virginia, anyway.
Nixon, the team's top draft pick who has missed two weeks of practice, had been expected to agree to a $925,000, four-year package tonight, team sources said, a deal reportedly worth $65,000 less than the original contract the Redskins offered two weeks ago.
Muno apparently informed the Redskins the only thing needed to complete the deal was Nixon's final approval.
But then there was no word, and the Redskins were left wondering what would happen next.
Beathard gave Muno a final, "take-it-or-leave-it" offer Tuesday, Muno said. Muno said he was not happy with the offer, but indications were he and his client realized they had little choice but to accept it.
The deal calls for Nixon to receive a $200,000 signing bonus, well under the $265,000 the Redskins previously offered and the $275,000 Nixon wanted.
The rest of the package breaks down this way: $130,000 for 1985, $160,000 for 1986, $190,000 for 1987 and $225,000 for 1988. He also will receive $5,000 for reporting to training camp each season.
The earlier Redskins offer was believed to be worth $990,000. Muno had been asking for $1,045,000, a figure that apparently is close to what players chosen near Nixon in the second round of the recent National Football League draft have been receiving from other teams.
All indications are that the new offer to Nixon, the 33rd player selected in the draft, is perhaps the lowest of the second round.
The San Diego Chargers paid cornerback Wayne Davis, the 39th pick, a reported $1,103,000 over four years. The New York Jets paid cornerback Lester Lyles, the 40th pick, a reported $1,065,000, also for four seasons. The Buffalo Bills paid center Mark Traynowicz, the 29th pick, a reported $1,145,000 for four years, including a $325,000 signing bonus.
Earlier, Muno said that Nixon was "disappointed" with the Redskins' offer. "He keeps looking at the other deals and wonders what's wrong with him," Muno said last week.
Last year, the Redskins agreed to pay top pick Bob Slater, the 31st player selected in the 1984 draft, a four-year total of $1,180,000 ($20,000 of it contingent on making the roster), including a $350,000 signing bonus.
Steve Hamilton, the 55th player selected last season, received an $850,000 package for only three years, including a $240,000 signing bonus, from the Redskins.
Agents have said the decreased threat from the U.S. Football League has lowered NFL teams' offers this season.
Talks between Nixon and the Redskins broke off last week with the sides no more than $55,000 apart on a four-year contract. The stalemate coincided with Cooke's request that Muno and/or Nixon come to the training camp to negotiate in person, a request Muno quickly turned down.
For the past week, the negotiations consisted of periodic phone calls between Beathard and Muno.
As for Riggins, sources said the Redskins have not heard from him since Monday, when he met with Cooke in Middleburg. Later that day, it was reported Riggins was arrested on a drunk-in-public charge early last Thursday morning in Reston.
Riggins denied the charge in a telephone interview with WJLA-TV-7 Tuesday.
The Redskins apparently are surprised Riggins has not contacted them to discuss his arrest or his contract, sources said.