Washington Redskins coach Richie Petitbon, faced with a threat from Wilber Marshall to sit out the season because he is unhappy with his "franchise" player designation, said yesterday that he is preparing to go without Marshall.
"I think under the circumstances, you have to do that," Petitbon said as he penciled in Rick Graf, a free agent signed from the Houston Oilers, as the starter in Marshall's outside linebacker position.
"He would probably be our No. 1," Petitbon said of Graf. "He's a pretty good player."
Petitbon, who said he thinks Marshall will be the only player missing from this weekend's minicamp, hasn't talked to Marshall about the situation.
"It doesn't do any good to talk to Wilber," Petitbon said. "He thinks the agreement is unfair to him and he wants a lot of money. I don't know what can be done."
Marshall, the only Redskin named to the Pro Bowl last season, told The Washington Times at a golf tournament Monday: "This is a question of principle, and I'm willing to do what I have to do for that principle. If I have to sit out a season, I will."
Under the settlement approved by Judge David Doty on Friday, Marshall is a franchise player, which means he can't negotiate with another team unless the Redskins give permission. They did give the Oilers permission, but Marshall couldn't come to terms with them.
Marshall, who plans to appeal Doty's ruling, wants about $3.5 million, about $1 million more than the Redskins or Oilers are willing to pay him.
In another development, the Redskins have decided not to pursue Green Bay Packers linebacker Johnny Holland because he is still recovering from a herniated disk in his neck.