With training camp slightly more than three weeks away, the Washington Redskins still have 14 unsigned veteran free agents, including starting offensive linemen Joe Jacoby and Jeff Bostic and defenders Mel Kaufman, Rich Milot and Dave Butz.

Although that total is among the highest in the league, General Manager Bobby Beathard said yesterday, "I don't think we're far off on any of them," and said he is not concerned about potential holdouts.

Beathard also said quarterback Jay Schroeder may sign a new contract shortly. Beathard said he hopes to meet this weekend with Schroeder's agent, Marvin Demoff, in Southern California.

"I don't like any of this hanging over our heads. It's pretty much done. I hope we'll finish soon," Beathard said of Schroeder's new deal. Meanwhile, Demoff said, "My expectation is that it will be done between the 20th of July and Aug. 1 {when Redskins veterans are due to report to camp in Carlisle, Pa.}."

Neither Beathard nor Demoff would discuss specifics, but it has been learned that Schroeder is on the verge of signing a three-year contract that would provide him with an estimated 1987 salary of $800,000, with potential bonuses and incentives that could bring his total earnings to more than $1 million per season.

This would make Schroeder the highest-salaried Redskin (running back George Rogers comes next at $665,000) and would leave him among the NFL's dozen highest-paid quarterbacks. Schroeder reportedly earned a $225,000 salary last season, his third in the league, which made him among the lowest-paid starting quarterbacks in the NFL.

Demoff said, "I don't think the Redskins have any qualms about putting Jay at the head of the class" on the club's salary scale. He added, "I see Jay in the upper echelon {among league quarterbacks}, but there is a question of where that is. Who do you look at, {St. Louis'} Neil Lomax or {the Raiders'} Marc Wilson, both of whom are at the top {in terms of salary} by default?

"Or do you look at {Cincinnati's} Boomer Esiason, who is making about half as much at $400,000 and who is producing much more? In quarterbacks, you have a lot of aberrations."

The other Redskins whose contracts have either expired or who are now entering the option year (when management has the option to retain their services for a minimum 10 percent increase over their 1986 salary) are: running backs Reggie Branch and Keith Griffin, kicker Steve Cox, defensive backs Ken Coffey and Barry Wilburn, tight ends Anthony Jones and Terry Orr and tackle Dan McQuaid.

The pace of veteran and rookie signings around the NFL has been as slow as last year, perhaps slightly slower. Club owners have made it clear they want to tighten spending on player salaries and, according to statistics compiled by the NFL Players Association, contract offers to draft picks are down 17 percent from last year and offers to veterans have remained about the same (12 percent to 15 percent annual increase).

Only 18 of the 333 players selected in the 1987 NFL draft have been signed, compared with 17 at this time last year. Only one first-round pick (Tampa Bay quarterback Vinny Testaverde) has been signed and only three players selected in the the top five rounds have been signed.

The NFLPA and the owners' Management Council are digging in for a long summer of negotiating to replace the existing collective bargaining agreement (which expires Aug. 31), and many player agents believe this fact will continue to slow the process of signing players.

Meanwhile, Beathard said he does not believe a conflict of interest exists in the Schroeder negotiations, despite the fact Demoff once negotiated Beathard's contract with the Redskins.

"Marv has been a very close friend for the last 18-20 years. He represented me only at the very beginning when I came to the Redskins when he met with Mr. {Edward Bennett} Williams {the former Redskins team president} at Mr. Williams' request," Beathard said. "Since then, I've represented myself. I don't need a representative because I think it's only proper that I represent myself with the owner."