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Well-known names likely to spice NFL Plan B lists PRO FOOTBALL


When National Football League teams get their Plan B shopping list today, they are likely to find such well-known players as Ronnie Lott, Roger Craig and Matt Millen of the San Francisco 49ers, Ottis Anderson of the New York Giants, Mike Tomczak of the Chicago Bears and Russ Grimm and Mark May of the Washington Redskins among the unprotected veterans.

Those are expected to be among the players who will be free until April 1 to sign with any other team.

Each of the 28 teams in the league has to submit a list of 37 protected players to the league office by 5 p.m. today. The rest of the players on the roster can negotiate with any of the other teams.

But some veterans won't get any offers or will decide the grass isn't greener in another city. For example, Anderson, the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player, was left unprotected the last two years, then returned to the Giants when no other teams showed interest in him.

When Anderson accepted his MVP trophy Monday in Tampa, Fla., he jokingly said he'd be "insulted" if the Giants didn't leave him unprotected again.

Because of his age (34) and salary ($450,000), the Giants figure he won't get any offers despite his heroics in the Super Bowl, and the Giants don't have to waste one of their protected spots on him.

Reports are out San Francisco are that the 49ers figure that Lott, Craig and Millen will fall into the same category.

But clubs also are likely to put veterans on the list who no longer fit into their plans.

Tomczak and May probably fall into that category. The Bears are ready to move Peter Tom Willis into their backup quarterback spot behind Jim Harbaugh and aren't keen on paying Tomczak his $750,000 salary to be a third-stringer.

Since Tomczak flopped in the playoffs against the Giants, he may not be much in demand.

Indications are that May, who sat out the season with a knee injury, no longer is being counted on by the Redskins. Otherwise, they likely would have activated him instead of Ray Brown late in the season. Brown is likely to be unprotected, too, but the Redskins may be figuring he'll return to them.

Grimm, who was left unprotected two years ago and didn't leave, is likely to undergo the same fate this time.

Besides May, the one Redskin likely to be left unprotected who doesn't seem to have a future in Washington is running back Kelvin Bryant, who wasn't the same player after sitting out the 1989 season with a neck injury suffered in an automobile accident.

General manager Charley Casserly said the Redskins won't complete their list until today, but indications are that two starters, defensive lineman Darryl Grant and safety Todd Bowles, could be left unprotected.

Coach Joe Gibbs met with Bowles yesterday to assure him that the Redskins want him back if they decide to leave him unprotected. They left him unprotected two years ago.

The Redskins were one of the most active teams in Plan B last year, signing 12 players. Only the Dallas Cowboys (16) and the Green Bay Packers (13) signed more.

The Plan B concept was created by the league two years as a strategic move to counter the legal action by the NFL Players Association to gain free agency for all the players.

The NFL seems to think it can convince the courts it's reasonable to protect 37 players and let the rest be free to move. The NFLPA contends that every player should be free to move when his contract expires.

NOTES: The Redskins have 10 players whose contracts have expired, including four, QB Mark Rypien, DL Eric Williams, OL Joe Jacoby and CB Martin Mayhew, who are likely to be protected. Unlike unprotected players who can sign with a new team without the need for compensation, if these players are protected, they'll be eligible to shop for offers, but are unlikely to move because a team wanting to sign any of them would have to give up draft-choice compensation if the Redskins don't match the offer. . . . The Redskins have come to terms on a three-year deal for QB Stan Humphries and a four-year contract for safety Alvin Walton.

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