Canadian Football League officials said yesterday that Dexter Manley can't play in their league as long as he's under contract to the Washington Redskins. However, Manley's attorney, Bob Woolf, said he agrees that Manley still has a valid NFL contract and that he hopes to discuss the situation with NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue next week.

"What they're saying is he can't make a living," Woolf said. "It's one thing to say he can't play in their league {the NFL}. It's another to say he can't play in another league."

Woolf is upset because Manley is caught in a complicated legal web that apparently will keep him out of pro football for more than half the 1990 season. Tagliabue informed Woolf on Tuesday that Manley's application for early reinstatement wouldn't be considered until Nov. 18 -- the one-year anniversary of Manley's lifetime ban for violating the league's substance abuse program for a third time.

Under NFL rules, players may apply for re-instatement after a year. Manley had sought an early exemption, believing that if he can't even join formal practices until late November, it's possible he may not be able to play this season.

Tagliabue informed Woolf by letter that early reinstatement wouldn't be considered, and Woolf said he then considered the CFL, where he earlier this summer sent former Patriots quarterback Doug Flutie. That's when Woolf was told that Manley had six games remaining on a four-year, $1.52-million deal with the Redskins.

"They said they had {examined} the contract and that it had six games left," Woolf said. "I don't quite understand it."

Greg Fulton, the CFL's secretary-treasurer in the league offices in Toronto, said that contract precluded any Canadian teams from making him an offer. But even if the contract is cleared up, a CFL source said Manley still might not be offered a contract.

The source said the league doesn't have a drug policy and that negotiations to reach one with the players union have been ongoing for several months.

"I don't know what kind of message bringing in Dexter Manley would send," he said.

Meanwhile, Woolf said he wanted to discuss the situation with Tagliabue when the commissioner returns to New York next week and that he would appeal to him that Manley is effectively barred from making a living. Manley earned about $350,000 last year -- he would have made $480,000 if he'd played the entire season -- and is believed to have made about that much more in outside income.

This year, his only income has been from Commonwealth United Mortgage Co. in Fairfax, where he works as a commercial loan originator. Woolf admitted money was a factor in considering the CFL.

Manley spent yesterday in Houston, where he's working as a volunteer at the John Lucas New Spirit Recovery Center, the substance-abuse facility at which he was treated last year. Manley didn't return telephone calls, but Lucas said he was working at the Recovery Center and working out with Lucas.

"He's fine," Lucas said. "He'll be back tomorrow."