The National Football League's Management Council delivered its "proposal for settlement" to the NFL Players Association yesterday, outlining what it described as a liberalized policy for free agency, a roster increase, increased minimum salary wage, a review board for union representatives and increased injury benefits.

But two hours after the 11-page outline was delivered to the NFLPA's downtown Washington offices, union chief Gene Upshaw said of the Management Council's proposal, "I can't stop laughing. This is a joke. Am I surprised? No. I knew they would give the low-ball offer. They hoped this would make us reconsider?"

Upshaw also said he will meet as scheduled later today with union representatives from most of the 28 teams, after which the union will announce an intended strike date. Player representatives have been quoted during the last week as saying that striking after the first or second week of the season would be advantageous, although the union could exercise an option to wait longer.

The union's meeting today will be followed by an owners' meeting in the Chicago area on Thursday, and negotiations could possibly resume by Friday, two days before the start of the regular season.

Jack Donlan, executive director of the Management Council, told United Press International yesterday, "I think {the proposal} moves a long way toward treating the issues we've heard from them. What it does is it saya, 'Fellas, here's the outline, here are the parameters.' "

Upshaw, however, called management's approach "a classic case of not wanting to negotiate." Upshaw also said he wouldn't mind seeing Commissioner Pete Rozelle at the bargaining table, "but not as a neutral, third party. There's no way in the world we would allow that. But if he enters as a representative of management, that's fine." Upshaw said he will talk with Rozelle later this week.

John Jones, a Management Council spokesman, said Donlan believes he has put "a sizable offer on the table . . . nobody here wants a work stoppage. It speaks to a lot of areas. It's a big step Jack's taken to get Gene back to the bargaining table."

The Council's latest outline contained several proposals that the union has previously rejected, such as mandatory drug testing and right of first refusal and compensation for free agents moving to another club.

Other points of management's proposal include:

That the Management Council, or its agents, represent the NFL teams in salary negotiations with individual players.

A signing deadline stipulating that if any veteran free agent or rookie is not signed by the first preseason game, that player would be ineligible for the entire season.

In the area of free agency -- probably the major issue, as far as the union is concerned -- the latest proposal would allow nearly 50 percent of the players in the league to be signed with compensation of only a third-round draft pick or lower. The council says that under the recently expired contract (signed in 1982) 521 players would require compensation of a first-round draft choice if they tried to change teams. Under the new proposal, only 228 would require a first-round pick as compensation.

Under the old agreement, if a third-year player making $220,000 signed with a new team, the new club would have to give up two draft choices, a first and a third. Under Donlan's new proposal, the new team would have to give up only a second-round pick.

The union, however, is seeking unrestricted freedom for its players and wants to do away with compensation and the right of the player's team to exercise its right of first refusal. Upshaw has said the union could modify its original position on unrestricted free agency, but that management's position is still unsatisfactory.

A wage scale, beginning in 1988, stipulating that all rookies entering the league sign two, one-year contracts. Every rookie would make $60,000 his first year, $70,000 the second season. But the first player chosen would receive a $500,000 signing bonus, and the last player in the first round would get a $100,000 bonus. The 29th through 35th picks would receive a $90,000 bonus; the 36th through 42nd picks would get $75,000 and so on, until the final draftee would get $5,000 to sign, in addition to the minimum of $60,000.

Rookies would have built-in performance incentives for rewards such as league most valuable player ($25,000), first-team all-pro (25,000), first-team all-conference ($15,000), all-rookie ($20,000), etc.

A three-member player representative review board, consisting of a union representative, a club representative and a neutral third party, would provide resolution for claims of discrimination against union reps. This comes in light of the New England Patriots' decision last week to trade starting tackle Brian Holloway, the club's union representative. The council says the review board would have "all the authority" to fashion any remedy including reinstatement and back pay. The union has said it seeks a guaranteed roster spot for union reps.

The roster would go from 45 to 47 players (still two fewer than the union would like). The Management Council figures that at $300,000 per man (base salary, benefits and certain incentives), teams would spend an additional $16.8 million.

Any vested veteran would receive the unpaid balance of his season's salary if he is dropped from the team's active list after three games. (This is a new offer).

A four-year player who receives a pension of $5,184 per year would receive $6,480 under the new plan and his severance pay would increase from $18,000 to nearly $31,000. A 10-year player's pension would increase about $4,000 per year and his severance about $14,000.

The players would receive increases in life insurance, health benefits and meal money.

"I just can't believe that they would put something like this out there in hopes that it would stop us from determining our strike deadline," Upshaw told United Press International. "This just won't do it. It's not even close."

Upshaw also noted that the Management Council also sent an unacceptable proposal to the union on Sept. 8, 1982, five years ago today.

"We had met {to negotiate} only 17 times leading up to that, and we've talked exactly 17 times this time around," he said. That time, the players union called a strike that lasted 57 days.