WR Lelie may recoup $220,000 repayment to Broncos

Updated: November 17, 2006, 8:59 PM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

To facilitate a trade from the Denver Broncos to the Atlanta Falcons, wide receiver Ashley Lelie had to write a $220,000 check to satisfy a Broncos demand for repayment of the final year of his rookie signing bonus pro-ration.

Lelie wrote the check but filed a grievance to reclaim that money. On Thursday night, according to a management source familiar with the case, Lelie was informed that an arbiter ruled in his favor and he might be able to get his money back.

Lelie's agent, Peter Schaffer, confirmed the news to the Associated Press on Friday.

"We derive no enjoyment having to go down this road in the first place," Schaffer said. "We never relish having to contest anything with the Broncos."

Lelie told the Denver Post after the Falcons' practice Friday: "It feels good to have that money back in my pocket. To lose that much money, cash, after taxes, is kind of tough, so it feels good to have that back in my pocket."

Since the Broncos can still file a grievance, Lelie can't start counting the money.

"I'm not out of the woods yet," Lelie told the Post. "Most importantly, I've got to concentrate on football. Hopefully, my agent and attorney will help me out with the rest."

Lelie wanted to leave the Broncos in a trade and missed training camp. Though Mike Shanahan preferred to trade him during the offseason, no trade could be worked out before the start of camp. Lelie held out and missed training camp.

Finally, Lelie was part of a three-way trade involving the Redskins, the Falcons and the Broncos, but the trade came down at a time that Lelie had to fulfill the Broncos' demands or the trade wouldn't happen. Lelie also was obliged to pay fine money for missing practices, training camp and mandatory offseason workouts.

John Clayton is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer