The Washington Redskins have talked to the agent representing Alonzo Highsmith, the former University of Miami running back and the Houston Oilers' unsigned top draft choice, but General Manager Bobby Beathard said last night "we don't have any interest in him."
Another NFL source had said the talks provided "nothing conclusive" about the Redskins offering a contract to Highsmith, who was declared a free agent by a Dade County, Fla., circuit court judge Saturday night. The judge, John Gale, cited what he preliminarily ruled was illegal price-fixing by the NFL and some of its clubs.
The judge, without notice or opposition, said any NFL club could sign Highsmith without compensating the Oilers and enjoined the league from blocking any of its 28 teams from negotiating with or signing him, and from punishing any club that does.
A league source said that a hearing has tentatively been set for Friday in Dade County circuit court at which time the league will seek to dissolve the injunction. Paul Tagliabue, the league's Washington-based antitrust attorney, said the NFL will contest the injunction on two points: a state court has no jurisdiction in this type of case and Highsmith's suit lacks merit.
Bob Fraley, Highsmith's Orlando-based attorney, said through his secretary last night that he would have no comment until today. Earlier in the day, he told United Press International he had brief discussions with a few teams that he would not identify. But he said the offers were not pouring in.
"As you might expect, there is a lot of timidness among the teams," said Fraley, an agent in Orlando. "But if nobody makes an offer, that's in direct conflict to this court order, and I think it would prove our case if we have to go try it."
Judge Gale, a prominent University of Miami football booster, said the preliminary injunction will stay in effect until the suit is heard in court.
Highsmith is one of four unsigned No. 1 choices. He is seeking a four-year $4 million deal, but the Oilers' last offer was about $2.4 million.
Fraley said Highsmith isn't attempting to test the draft, but to get fair market value to play this season.
The Associated Press reported the Oilers have hired Washington attorney Edward Bennett Williams' firm to represent them in the case.