The Washington Redskins are close to a contract agreement with wide receiver Irving Fryar that would bring him out of retirement to play this season.
Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins' director of player personnel, said today the club has had "extensive" talks with Fryar and his New York-based agent, Michael George.
Cerrato said the Redskins hope to have Fryar, who turns 37 next month, in uniform for their third preseason game, at Pittsburgh on Aug. 28.
"We're courting each other. . . . Something has a chance of getting done," Cerrato said. "Something can get done if we create the right circumstances.
"If we can work it out, we would look to get him ready to play in the third or fourth game" of the preseason.
Some club officials said a deal with Fryar could be completed before Friday night's preseason home opener against the Buffalo Bills.
The Redskins initially would make Fryar their No. 3 wide receiver behind starters Michael Westbrook and Albert Connell. But he likely would push Connell for a starting job.
"It'd be a plus any time you can bring in a Pro Bowl football player unless he's over and done," said Terry Robiskie, the Redskins' passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach.
"And I don't think he's over and done."
Neither Fryar nor George returned telephone messages today.
The Redskins initiated conversations with George last week. The team had been shopping its three first-round picks in next year's draft, attempting to complete a major trade before the regular season.
But the Redskins haven't been able to make a trade, and have turned to luring Fryar and defensive end Chris Doleman out of retirement.
"I see no trade right now," Cerrato said today. "There's nothing available.
"Nobody has come to us with anything."
Fryar made 48 receptions for the Philadelphia Eagles last season, and has 784 receptions during a 15-year NFL career in which he also played for the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins.
He was a Pro Bowl selection as recently as 1997, when he had 86 catches for Philadelphia. The Redskins also envision him as a mentor for their unproven corps of wide receivers.
"You'd hope his experience would rub off, and they'd understand what it takes," Robiskie said.
Said Cerrato: "It's like we've already seen on our team with [defensive end] Marco Coleman and [fullback] Larry Centers.
"He's a veteran guy who's been there."
Redskins backup quarterback Rodney Peete, Fryar's teammate the previous three seasons in Philadelphia, said he believes Fryar would be a good addition.
"He'd bring some leadership and experience, and he can still play," Peete said.
"He had problems with the Eagles with his contract and that edged him into his decision to retire, I think.
"I think he has a lot left."
Doleman's Washington-based agent, David Falk, has told the Redskins it would take a one-year contract worth $3 million to $4 million to get Doleman, who had 15 sacks for the San Francisco 49ers last season.
Cerrato said he is uncertain whether the Redskins can work out a deal with Doleman. But if the team signs Fryar and Doleman, Cerrato said he would be pleased with the Redskins' mix of players entering the season.
"I'd feel pretty good about everything," Cerrato said. "We're using a lot of what-ifs. But you'd be talking about a good mix of age and youth, Pro Bowlers and up-and-coming guys."
The Redskins' biggest need probably is a left tackle. Richmond Webb is in a contract dispute with the Dolphins but Miami isn't taking trade offers.
Cerrato said he is optimistic the Redskins' two left tackles, Andy Heck and Joe Patton, can get the job done.
"We'll find out in the next couple preseason games what we've got," Cerrato said. "We have guys with ability. They need to step up and get the job done. They're being challenged right now."