Running back wants long-term contract
INDIANAPOLIS -- Colts president Bill Polian expects to see Edgerrin James at training camp next week.
James, a three-time Pro Bowl running back, signed a one-year deal worth slightly more than $8 million in March. But after campaigning through his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, for a long-term contract, there's been speculation he might not report with his teammates on Wednesday.
Polian believes that's not an option.
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"He has a contract that he signed of his own free will, and we expect him to honor that contract," Polian told The Associated Press on Thursday. "For people to think that he can request a trade or something, is pure baloney. He has two choices: He can honor the contract or not honor the contract."
Polian acknowledged he has not spoken with James about his plans.
One day earlier, Rosenhaus said he knew James' intentions while declining to divulge them.
"Edgerrin recently said that he'd address that publicly at a later date and I'm going to honor that," Rosenhaus said.
If James holds out, Polian said he would be fined $6,000 each day he missed. James was fined an undisclosed amount for skipping the team's mandatory minicamp in May.
James is coming off his best season since tearing a ligament in his left knee in 2001. He rushed for 1,548 yards and nine touchdowns, caught 51 passes for 483 yards and had a career-high average of 4.6 yards per carry last season.
The two other members of the Colts "triplets" -- two-time MVP Peyton Manning and six-time Pro Bowl receiver Marvin Harrison -- already have cashed in with long-term contracts that included lucrative signing bonuses. James was hoping for a similar reward this year but agreed instead to the one-year deal in March when it appeared there was a glut of top running backs in the league.
"We are presuming he'll be here," Polian said. "If he had not signed the contract, then he would have been within his rights to hold out."
James has held out before. He missed 21 days of training camp as a rookie in 1999 before signing a $49 million deal and has skipped two mandatory minicamps -- one in May and one in 2002.
Those absences hardly hurt James' productivity. He won the 1999 and 2000 rushing titles, has steadily improved in each of the three seasons since the knee injury, and is known for staying in shape despite doing most of his offseason work in Miami, where he attended college.
James is also notorious for his disdain of preseason games, when he plays only sparingly.
While Polian remains hopeful James will report Wednesday for camp in Terre Haute, he also believes the Colts have enough running backs to be successful without him.
"We've made every effort to make sure we have a very deep team. We re-signed Dominic Rhodes, we've got [Ran] Carthon, we drafted Anthony Davis. We've got plenty of backs here," he said. "If Edge wants to play, we'll welcome him with open arms. If not, we'll coach and play with the players who are here."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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