White suggests to Jets that they get Esiason Acquisition could influence choice


Boomer Esiason, of all people, may turn out to be a factor in the Reggie White derby.

In the latest stop on his See America Tour, White visited the New York Jets yesterday and suggested they need to get Esiason, the former University of Maryland quarterback who was benched by the Cincinnati Bengals last year.

"You look at the Jets' situation, and they have great defensive players, and they have a young player in Browning Nagle, who I think will be a [good] quarterback, but you look at his situation and see he may need some leadership. That's why you think in the back of your mind, it would be more attractive if Boomer Esiason was here. People can say what they want about Boomer, but I still think Boomer can play," he said.

When he was asked if getting a veteran quarterback would improve the Jets' chances of signing him, White said, "It would improve greatly, which is not to say because the quarterback is not stable, I'm going to say, 'Forget you guys.' "

Esiason liked White's comments. He laughed when they were read to him and said, "I love him."

Of White's assertion that Esiason can still play, Esiason said: "He's right there, but I tell you what, it's great to hear it out of someone like him. I'd love nothing better than to be on the same team with that guy. The bottom line is he's a player who wants to win."

Esiason, who lost the Bengals' starting quarterback job to rookie David Klingler last year and is on the trading block, would like to play for the Jets because he's a New York native and Jets coach Bruce Coslet is a former Cincinnati assistant coach.

Coslet has expressed an interest in Esiason, and Mike Brown, the Bengals general manager, has indicated he hopes to trade Esiason at the owners meetings next week.

The Jets have joined the Cleveland Browns, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions as teams that have entertained White.

Still on tap are the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants, but he probably won't visit them until after the owners meetings.

There's a chance the bidding will get too high for the Redskins, with the salary cap looming next year. There was a report published in Philadelphia yesterday that the Redskins have told White's agent, Jimmy Sexton, that they can't go above $3 million. There's been speculation White may get a $3.5 million offer.

Washington general manager Charley Casserly said yesterday he hasn't had any contract talks with Sexton, but he has confirmed the Redskins are over the proposed cap.

The Redskins took a look at another defensive lineman yesterday when a restricted free agent, Wayne Martin of the New Orleans Saints, visited Redskin Park.

Martin, who played end on first downs and tackle on passing downs and got 15 1/2 sacks last season, including 4 1/2 in one game against the Falcons, made $350,000 last year plus a $40,000 roster bonus and is attempting to triple his salary. Even if the Redskins offer him more than $1 million, the Saints have the right to keep him by matching it because he only has four years of experience. If they don't match, they get a first-round draft pick.

Last year, the Lions offered linebacker Pat Swilling $1.792 million a year. The Saints could have gotten two first-round picks if they hadn't matched it. They kept Swilling by matching it, so they figure to keep Martin, who's also visited San Francisco.

Meanwhile, Redskins free agents continue to make the rounds. Wide receiver Gary Clark was in Green Bay yesterday.

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