Broncos happy Coleman will play

Updated: June 25, 2004, 4:01 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Just two weeks after he told coach Mike Shanahan that he planned to retire, defensive end Marco Coleman has reversed field, and the 12-year pro has now apprised the Denver Broncos that he will play in 2004.

The reason for Coleman's change of heart were not known but the Broncos, who signed him as part of an effort to add not only depth but also veteran leadership to the roster, are glad to have him back. The team has concluded its organized offseason workout schedule and so Coleman will not be able to practice with his teammates until training camp.

Despite his earlier contentions, Coleman did not file official retirement paperwork with the NFL, and the Broncos never placed him on the reserve-retired list. Technically, it's as if Coleman never left the team.

Coleman, 34, signed a one-year contract with Denver earlier in March, for the league minimum base salary of $760,000. That contract, obviously, remains intact. The change of course by Coleman means the team has two longtime veterans, with tackle Luther Ellis having also signed in the offseason, to help tutor its younger defensive linemen.

Last season, Coleman appeared in 13 games for the Philadelphia Eagles, all as a reserve, and notched 13 tackles and one sack.

A former first-round pick of the Miami Dolphins (1992), Coleman will be playing for his sixth different franchise and fourth different team in four seasons.

In stints with the Dolphins (1992-95), San Diego (1996-98), Washington (1999-2001), Jacksonville (2002) and Philadelphia (2003), Coleman, known as a solid two-way defender, has 574 tackles, 62 sacks, 18 forced fumbles, one interception and 16 passes defensed. The former Georgia Tech star enjoyed his best season in 2000, notching 12 sacks for the Redskins.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.