The First Minister reached out to those favouring more Holyrood powers in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, insisting they would "want change" if given a choice between independence or the status quo.
It came as Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Secretary Michael Moore asked officials yesterday to draw up detailed pro-posals on the poll's format for Mr Salmond and Prime Minister David Cameron to sign off, leading to fresh speculation a deal has all but been agreed.
Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie will also today tell his party's annual conference in Brighton that England's citizens should come out in favour of their neighbour remaining in the United Kingdom. He will argue they still "have a voice" in the campaign.
However, Mr Salmond, who starts a week-long US visit today, told the US newspaper: "The UK Government is clearly not willing to offer devo-max or fiscal autonomy as an option. So I suspect - a lot's going to depend on people who support economic powers for the Scottish Parliament but find the UK Government's stopping them being able to move forward. I think people in these circumstances would want a change."
Nationalists, who have already talked of reaching out to devo-max supporters, welcomed recent comments by businessman Jim McColl, who said he would vote for independence in the absence of a "more powers" option. But it is the first time the move has been endorsed publicly by Mr Salmond, who has always maintained it would be his "duty" to include a devo-max option if there was enough support for it. He had previously warned it could derail the inter-government negotiations ahead of his meeting with Mr Cameron next month.
Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran MP said: "It would appear Alex Salmond has finally admitted defeat in his campaign for a second prize in the referendum but he doesn't even have the decency to tell the people of Scotland first."
She claimed the purported date of the poll was first leaked to Rupert Murdoch's Sun, but "now he tells the US press there will only be a single question before his consultation has been published. The First Minister continues to treat the people of Scotland with utter contempt by refusing to be open about the referendum process and misrepresenting their views."
The First Minister's spokesman said the referendum arrangements should be "made in Scotland" and insisted: "That is the spirit in which the Scottish Government is approaching the discussions that are currently under way with the UK Government." He added: "Labour's backing for the Tories and LibDems in opposing new powers for the Scottish Parliament will only succeed in persuading more people to vote Yes to an independent Scotland."
Mr Salmond's enthusiasm for devo-max, which would hand Holyrood full tax-raising powers but not control over defence or foreign affairs, has been thwarted as supporters have failed to draw up detailed plans or a suitable question. Grassroots Nationalists and some cabinet allies, including Ms Sturgeon, have argued it would almost certainly defeat the independence bid.
The UK Government has insisted Mr Salmond must pose a simple Yes/No question, an SNP manifesto pledge, if Westminster is to transfer powers making the referendum legally binding.
Professor John Curtice, of Strathclyde University's politics department, said: "Mr Salmond has been playing the devo-max game for as long as he can. He has picked up, correctly, there are a lot of people wanting more powers for the Scottish Parliament. But it's been apparent for some time the SNP Government is not going to go for a second question and now he is trying to maximise appeal for independence.
"He will announce that, yes, there exists support for more powers but insist the UK Government is not willing to allow Scots to express their full democratic voice."