NFL owners decided on a 17-week 1992 schedule yesterday that would involve a rebate of some $1 million per team to the television networks.
The owners, meeting in Dallas, tabled a proposal by Art Modell, chairman of the NFL television committee, that would give the league a two-year network extension in exchange for the return of some $6.8 million per team in 1993.
"The proposal is not a dead issue," Modell said. "It was our [the committee's] recommendation to table it. There will still be some lively discussion on it."
Modell had negotiated a new contract with give-backs of $308 million in TV revenue in exchange for a deal that would go through 1995. Some owners, like Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, didn't want to give any money back.
"We think there will be an economic up-tick down the road," Jones said. "It's way too early to make a decision on the contract. The NFL holds up well in recession times."
The current contract calls for NFL teams to receive $34.2 million this season and $41 million in 1993. The renegotiated contract would have given each team $34.2 million this year and $34 million each of the next three years.
The five television networks have said that their NFL revenue is down and asked for a break.
The NFL originally had planned for an 18-week schedule in 1992, with two weeks off for each club. The 17-week schedule approved yesterday will have a week off for each team with two weeks off between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl.
The owners also approved the formal transfer of the New England Patriots from Victor Kiam to the James Orthwein group of St. Louis.
* REDSKINS: Washington signed four Plan B free agents during the two-month signing period that ended at midnight yesterday.
They are: Steelers defensive end Keith Willis, who signed a two-year $1.2 million contract Tuesday; Chargers defensive end George Hinkle; Packers offensive lineman Steve Gabbard; and Falcons tight end Gary Wilkins.
The Redskins made an offer to a fifth player, defensive back Pat Eilers of the Vikings, but he signed with the Cardinals yesterday.
The Redskins lost wide receiver Keenan McCardell, who signed with the Browns, and tight end Jimmie Johnson, who signed with the Lions. Both finished the season on injured reserve.
The Redskins have signed 35 Plan B players in the past four years. Twenty-seven were signed the first two years, and eight the past two years. Of the first 31, 19 made the club and 14, including six starters, are still on the roster.
* FALCONS: Wide receiver Drew Hill, 35, the only NFL receiver with four 1,000-yard seasons after age 30, signed a one-year contract with Atlanta for $800,000, his agent, Harold Daniels, said.
Hill caught 90 passes last season, second in the AFC, for 1,109 yards, third in the AFC.
* 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 last season. The Dolphins need a back to replace Sammie Smith, who has asked to be traded.