Rookie place kicker Nick Novak, waived by the Washington Redskins on Saturday, was not claimed by any of the NFL's 31 other teams by 4 p.m. Monday and can now sign with any team as an unrestricted free agent, either to a regular roster or a practice squad.

Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins' vice president of football operations, said yesterday that the team had not discussed the possibility of bringing Novak back to the practice squad. He was signed in the second week of the season after John Hall hurt his quadriceps in the season opener against the Chicago Bears.

Novak, who played at the University of Maryland, made 5 of 7 field goal attempts and all 15 extra points. His extra point was the winning margin in the 14-13 comeback victory over Dallas in Week 2, and he drilled a 39-yard field goal in overtime to beat the Seattle Seahawks the following week at FedEx Field.

In a telephone interview, Novak said the Redskins informed him they were letting him go Saturday morning shortly after a team meeting at Redskins Park.

"I was getting ready to go to the team hotel and one of the personnel guys got me and told me they wanted to see me," Novak said. "I had a meeting with [special teams coach] Danny Smith, and he said some really nice things to me."

Novak said he did not speak with Coach Joe Gibbs on Saturday, but that earlier in the week he saw him in the weight room while Gibbs was working out on an exercise bike.

"He said he really appreciated what I did for them," Novak said. "He also said it wouldn't go unseen or unnoticed around the league, and I really appreciated hearing him say that to me. It meant a lot."

Novak said he had no regrets about his six-week stint in Washington and knew when he signed with the team that once Hall was healthy, he likely would be the odd man out.

"I knew my role coming in was to fill in for John," he said. "I tried not to get ahead of myself thinking I'd be their guy. I didn't want to step on any toes or offend John in any way. He's a great kicker, and he helped me as much as he could. I just want people to know the opportunity to be with the Redskins was a great thing for me, and I really appreciate everything that's happened."

Odds and Ends

The Redskins re-signed defensive back Dimitri Patterson to their practice squad . . . . Tampa Bay, the Redskins' opponent this weekend, is ranked No. 1 in the league in total defense, allowing opponents 236.9 yards per game. It is No. 2 in rushing defense (75.9 yards) and No. 2 in pass defense (161). Its offense is 21st overall (310 yards), 16th in rushing (114.8) and 21st in passing (195). . . . Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss is No. 2 in receiving yards in the league, with 856, second only to Carolina's Steve Smith (903).