For the second straight year, the Washington Redskins have signed four Plan B free agents during the two-month signing period, which ended at midnight yesterday.
The four players they signed this year are: defensive ends George Hinkle of the San Diego Chargers and Keith Willis of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who signed a two-year $1.2 million contract on Tuesday; offensive lineman Steve Gabbard of the Green Bay Packers; and tight end Gary Wilkins of the Atlanta Falcons.
The Redskins made an offer to a fifth player, defensive back Pat Eilers of the Minnesota Vikings, but he signed with the Phoenix Cardinals yesterday.
The Redskins lost two players who finished last season on injured reserve, wide receiver Keenan McCardell, who signed with the Cleveland Browns, and tight end Jimmie Johnson, who signed with the Detroit Lions.
The Redskins have signed 35 Plan B players in the past four years. Twenty-seven of those were signed the first two years, and just eight the past two years. Of the first 31, 19 made the club and 14 are still on the roster, including six starters.
* FALCONS: Wide receiver Drew Hill, 35, unsure of his future with the Houston Oilers despite finishing third in receptions in the NFL last season, signed a one-year contract with Atlanta for $800,000, his agent said.
Hill, the only NFL receiver with four 1,000-yard seasons after age 30, bolted from the run-and-shoot Oilers to the Red Gun offense of the Falcons. Agent Harold Daniels said Hill will make $800,000 next season, $500,000 of it as a signing bonus.
* BRONCOS: Denver filled its need for a backup quarterback by signing Steve Pelluer, left unprotected by the Chiefs.
In his eight-year pro career, Pelluer has started 30 games and appeared in 65. He has completed 56 percent of his passes for 6,870 yards, 28 touchdowns and 40 interceptions.
Pelluer's contract with the Broncos will give him $1.5 million to $2 million over two years, sources said. He earned $600,000 last season.
Earlier, the Broncos won a bidding war with the Seahawks for Cowboys tight end Rob Awalt. Awalt, 27, agreed to a two-year, $1.375 million contract Tuesday night that includes a bonus of $150,000.
* DOLPHINS: Coach Don Shula said Miami has begun talks with the Broncos about trading for running back Bobby Humphrey, a two-time 1,000-yard rusher who lost his job to Gaston Green after a 97-day holdout last season. The Dolphins need a three-down back to replace Sammie Smith, who has asked to be traded.
* NFL owners will likely table a move to give back money to the three major television networks in exchange for a two-year extension of their contracts, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says.
The proposal was to be discussed by the owners today. The proposal calls for the league to lower its rights under the current deal by $238 million, or $8.5 million per team. Ten club owners are said to oppose the move. Twenty-one votes are required for a proposal to pass.
Another matter on the agenda includes the formal transfer of the New England Patriots from Victor Kiam to a St. Louis group headed by James Orthwein.