One down, one to go.
Holdout defensive tackle Dave Butz called Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke today to tell him he accepted the team's offer of a reported $975,000 for two years and will be in training camp by Sunday afternoon.
But holdout running back John Riggins did not reach an agreement on a new, one-year contract during an afternoon meeting with Cooke at the owner's Middleburg, Va., estate.
Riggins is expected to call Cooke Friday morning to tell him what he thinks of the Redskins' latest offer. Last week, Riggins, 36, turned down a one-year deal of about $1 million, sources said. He is reported to be asking for almost $1.5 million from the Redskins.
All indications are that Riggins and Cooke are closer tonight than they've ever been in these negotiations, but it's unclear whether the Redskins raised their offer, or Riggins lowered his demands.
Butz, meanwhile, acknowledged that the Redskins' threatened $1,000-a-day reduction of his signing bonus was a factor in his decision to agree to the new contract.
"That is a tremendous amount of money to me," he said by telephone from his home in Belleville, Ill. "That was unsettling, yes."
Because the reduction went into effect only Wednesday, Butz stands to lose just $1,000. Apparently, the Redskins will not charge Butz for any days missed after he agreed to the contract.
Butz and Cooke are expected to discuss the issue when they meet in Carlisle sometime next week. One of Cooke's options is to waive the reduction. Then again, Butz said, "It could be technical. It might count until I actually cross the Carlisle line."
Cooke said he expected Butz in camp Saturday, the day the Redskins play at Atlanta in their opening preseason game. Butz said it's more likely to be Sunday. He plans to pack tonight and begin his 800-mile drive Friday afternoon, stopping to put his family's belongings in storage in Virginia before coming to Dickinson College.
He expects to arrive in plenty of time for the team's Sunday night meeting. Otherwise, Sunday is a day off for the players.
Butz, 35, said he was left with no hard feelings concerning the negotiations, which really didn't begin until four days after he was required to report to camp.
"I have no bad feelings about anything," he said. "I just drank a bottle of champagne."
Earlier in the year, he traveled from Illinois to Washington twice to meet with Cooke, only to leave without a firm offer, Butz said.
For months, his only offer was the Redskins' qualifying figure of $253,000, the standard 10 percent raise from the $230,000 he made in 1984. Finally, on July 31, four days after the veterans had reported, the Redskins offered him a reported $200,000 signing bonus, $325,000 salary for 1985 and $450,000 salary for 1986.
Initially, the Redskins gave him no deadline to respond to their offer. Then, earlier this week, General Manager Bobby Beathard told Butz he must accept the offer by Wednesday or face the $1,000-a-day reduction.
"Nobody won and nobody lost," Butz said. "It's just a good thing to be a Redskin again.
"I don't know how other people feel, but, for me, when it's over, everyone should be a man about it. I'll live up to my part of the bargain and I think they'll live up to their part of the bargain.
"At one time during the negotiations, Mr. Cooke said, 'David, I feel like I'm your enemy.' I said, 'I feel like you're my negotiating partner.' "
Cooke said today he was "delighted" Butz agreed to the contract, which apparently includes a maximum $140,000 in incentive clauses. Last season, Butz made about $35,000 in incentives.
In 1983, he reportedly earned about $140,000 in incentives when he led the team with 11 1/2 sacks and was selected for the Pro Bowl. The Redskins defense was ranked No. 1 in the National Football League against the run (80.6 yards per game) that season.
Butz, who has been working out daily at home, said he feels stronger than he ever has felt, but added he "needs work" on his wind. "I can run a mile, and that's about it," he said. "But that's what I've always done."
Otherwise, he said, he is eager to take his place at left tackle between end Charles Mann and right tackle Darryl Grant.
"I need the physical abuse, which is what training camp does to you," he said. "Isn't it wonderful to be an adult and say you need to take physical abuse?"
On missing two weeks of training camp, he said: "It'll be hard on me, no question. It might be hard on some of the ball players and coaches, but those things happen."
Coach Joe Gibbs, who was called off the practice field this afternoon to speak on the phone with Cooke about the Riggins negotiations, said he was glad to have one of his two AWOL veterans back.
"It makes me feel good," Gibbs said. "Dave Butz is a very important guy. Now, we've got it down to just the one guy."
Butz said he doubts he will catch the Redskins-Falcons game on television Saturday night.
"I'm going to be doing some hard driving," he said.
"But I'll watch the film on Sunday."