Washington Redskins officials likely will join the bidding for free agent Charles Haley following the veteran defensive end's workout yesterday at Redskin Park, team sources said.
Both Coach Norv Turner and Haley professed admiration for each other following the workout. Turner said Haley, who has battled lower-back injuries in recent years, could be an asset to the team, particularly on third-down, passing situations. Haley, who lives in nearby Centreville, said Washington is one of the teams he would love to play for.
New Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder paid a visit to Redskin Park as Haley was finishing his visit. Snyder, accompanied by Redskins co-owner Fred Drasner, arrived by helicopter (borrowed from a mutual friend), landing near the practice fields behind Redskin Park. During their two-hour visit, Snyder and Drasner walked the practice field, toured the facility, met with Turner and spoke briefly with Haley.
"He was impressed that the owner came out to meet him," said Kurt K. Robinson, Haley's agent.
Haley, 35, considered one of the NFL's most gifted pass rushers before several back surgeries limited his effectiveness, already has offers from San Francisco and Carolina following workouts there this week, Robinson said. The Redskins have not made an offer. Assuming they do, Robinson said he and Haley would take another two weeks from that date to make a decision. Wherever he lands, Haley made clear he does not want to start next season, but come off the bench.
"I want to take a secondary role," Haley said. "I want to do whatever it takes to win. If that's 10 plays, 50 plays -- I'll do whatever it takes to win. That's why I play the game: To win. But I just don't want to play every down."
Haley won three Super Bowl rings with Dallas and two with San Francisco. He played five games for Dallas in 1996, starting all five, before having season-ending back surgery. He announced his retirement July 15, 1997. But he returned last season for two playoff games with San Francisco. Yesterday, Haley said he was returning to the game in hopes of winning another Super Bowl.
"The only reason I'm playing is looking for number six," Haley said. As for the Redskins' chances, he said: "I think they've put together a good scheme, a good group of guys to get that accomplished. Adding me to the piece of pie, will that do it? I don't know. All I know is if I decide to come here and play, Coach Turner will get 100 percent of Charles Haley -- dedication and doing whatever is asked of me to do. That's the big thing."
Robinson said Haley has narrowed his choices to teams with coaches he knows and respects: Bill Walsh, a consultant at San Francisco; George Seifert, Carolina's new head coach; and Turner. Of the three teams, only San Francisco made the playoffs last season, but there are other factors. According to Robinson's research, the Redskins have about $2.6 million available to spend before exceeding their salary cap. Haley lives about 15 miles from Redskin Park and he likes the team's starting defensive line of ends Kenard Lang and Marco Coleman and tackles Dana Stubblefield and Dan Wilkinson.
"Obviously, he has always been impressed with Norv," Robinson said. "Clearly, the Redskins have the potential to be a devastating defense, with the guys they've got there up front."
Turner acknowledged that Haley's history of back trouble would require that teams be smart about how they use him. But Turner said he saw nothing in the workout to indicate Haley wouldn't be an asset. Haley said his back was pain-free and that he had no hesitation to play, despite a doctor's warning that he may herniate another disk in his back.
"I love the game," Haley said. "I love the trenches. I even kind of like the pain that goes with it."
Redskins Notes: Snyder and Drasner did not speak to reporters before departing in the helicopter at 3:30 p.m. . . . Scouting administrator Ray Wright, 27, has been promoted to director of player programs. Former Redskins cornerback Martin Mayhew will work with Wright part-time while he pursues his law degree at Georgetown.
CAPTION: Charles Haley sat out 1998 regular season, but came back to the 49ers for two playoff games.