Portis willing to live with contract

Updated: February 6, 2004, 3:52 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

DENVER -- An angry Clinton Portis denied Thursday that he is considering holding out during training camp.

Clinton Portis
Portis

The Denver Post reported Thursday that Portis may be unwilling to play for his current contract. "If I don't feel like going to camp, if I don't feel like the situation is right for me, I won't be there," Portis, who is in Honolulu for his first Pro Bowl, reportedly told the Denver Post.

Reached at practice on Thursday, Portis tried to clear the air.

"I never said that I wasn't coming to camp if my contract didn't get redone," Portis told the Rocky Mountain News. "I never said my contract was an issue."

Yes, Portis admitted he was not thrilled with the $300,000 salary he made in the second year of a four-year deal he signed in 2002. He did say Thursday, however, he was willing to live with the terms of the contract for now.

Portis told the News that he was "suckered" into comments that made him look at odds with the Broncos.

"The media's making a bigger deal of it than it is, and I don't like that," he told the News. "Don't use me as a scapegoat for a storyline, like you got the inside scoop on something when you really didn't because I never said that."

Portis became the third running back to gain at least 1,500 yards in the first two seasons of a career, but also was among Denver's lowest-paid players. Only six Broncos made less last season than Portis, and all were on injured reserve or signed after the season began.

Portis has two years left on a four-year contract that paid him a $1.29 million signing bonus. He is scheduled to get $380,000 next season and $455,000 the season after, well below what the league's top players make. Portis ran for a career-high 1,591 yards and an NFL best 5.5 yards per carry last season, despite missing three games with sternum, ankle and knee injuries. He closed out the year with six consecutive 100-yard games.

"I have a contract, what can I do?" Portis told the News. "I can't put no gun to nobody's head and make them let me out of it. I slapped my name on the dotted line. So I've got four years."

Portis told the newspaper that he wants to sit down at some point to try to clear the air without "blowing this situation out of proportion."

"I'm not happy. But I wasn't happy last year and what did I do? I went out and gained 1,600 yards," he told the News. "You never seen me pout. I gave you my all. When I get out on the field, I give you my all. So there will never be an issue where I'm proud to have been a distraction. I got on the field. I wasn't happy. It was known I wasn't happy. I'm in the Pro Bowl."

The Broncos are already almost $5 million over the salary cap for the coming season and still want to re-sign Pro Bowl middle linebacker Al Wilson, unrestricted free-agent linebacker Ian Gold, defensive end Bertrand Berry and fullback Reuben Droughns. The agent for Wilson told the News on Thursday that he and the Broncos have finished about "90 percent" of negotiations toward a new contract for his client.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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