The Los Angeles Rams and the Phoenix Cardinals have become the first teams to say publicly that they would be interested in talking to defensive lineman Dexter Manley if he becomes eligible to play in the National Football League next week.
"It's where [defensive line] we could all use some help," Cardinals general manager Larry Wilson said yesterday. "I suspect if that happens [Manley becomes eligible to return], there'll be a number of teams interested in him, including, possibly, the Cardinals."
Contacted at his suburban Virginia home, Manley said he was thrilled to hear that teams are talking about him.
"I'm excited that somebody said something good about me," he said.
Manley is scheduled to meet with NFL commissioner Paul
Tagliabue today in New York, and an announcement on his reinstatement is expected to come Monday. All indications are that the Washington Redskins no longer are interested in him. They've added three defensive linemen, Jumpy Geathers, Eric Williams and Tim Johnson, this year.
Manley was banned a year ago after failing an NFL drug test for a third time, but he said that he has passed all of his tests in the past year. He is eligible to be reinstated Sunday, but the league has indicated that it will not make an announcement until Monday.
Manley said that he's been clocked recently at 4.58 and 4.59 seconds in the 40-yard -- and hasn't lost any speed, even though he's 31.
"The game today is speed," he said. "I have it. I can get to the quarterback."
Both the Rams and Cardinals seem intrigued by the idea of Manley playing for them.
The Rams' John Robinson became the first coach to say he would be interested in talking to Manley.
"We would be willing to sit down and find out where he is as a person," Robinson said Wednesday.
Cardinals head coach Joe Bugel, who was an assistant coach with the Redskins until last season, said yesterday, "If he can curb his off-the-field activities and get back to the way he used to play, I'll tell you this: He can help any ballclub.
"Personally, I have a lot of respect for Dexter Manley. The guy can play football. He put three [actually two] rings on a lot of guys' fingers."
Bugel was referring to the three Super Bowl appearances that the Redskins made while Manley was with the team.