Frustrated Culpepper seeks NFLPA intervention
Informed on Friday that he would not be permitted to participate in team drills during the Miami Dolphins' weekend minicamp, quarterback Daunte Culpepper will seek intervention from the NFL Players Association to end a stalemate that has left his career in limbo, he said Saturday afternoon.
Culpepper also reiterated, in a statement he personally distributed to the Miami-area media and e-mailed to other outlets following the Saturday morning minicamp practice, that he wants to be released as quickly as possible so that he can move forward with his career.
"I am now waiting for the Dolphins' management to do what is right and fair by granting my release, so that I can find a team that will appreciate my talent and love for the game of football," Culpepper said in the statement. "I do not want to cause any disruption while I wait, so I will only be at the facility in order to run and lift. What happened yesterday in the team meeting and on the field was unfair to both me and my teammates. The NFLPA legal department is reviewing the situation and [executive director] Gene Upshaw has encouraged me to continue to be patient and professional."
The eight-year veteran participated in warmups during the Friday morning minicamp session and in some individual drills. Culpepper said he was then apprised by quarterbacks coach Terry Shea that he would not be permitted to take part in any team drills.
At that point, Culpepper left the field, accompanied by Stu Weinstein, the team's director of security, and retired to the weight room.
Frustrated by the uncertainty of his status, Culpepper noted afterwards that he had taken his last practice snap with the Dolphins, who acquired him from Minnesota in a 2006 trade for a second-round draft choice. He said he would only spend time at the facility rehabilitating his surgically repaired right knee.
On Saturday morning, Culpepper watched part of the Dolphins' practice from outside of the facility, at the edge of the field, then ducked back into the locker room.
Dolphins officials have said they have no intention for now of releasing Culpepper and will continue their efforts to trade him. First-year coach Cam Cameron told the Miami media on Saturday that the team is "absolutely" prepared to take the situation into training camp as the club attempts to locate a trade partner.
The irony in that, of course, is that the Dolphins just went through a similar lengthy soap opera in their attempts to acquire quarterback Trent Green from Kansas City in a trade. That trade, which brought Miami its new starter, was finally consummated on Tuesday evening after nearly two months of negotiations.
There is some precedent for the involvement of the NFLPA in Culpepper's situation. Last year, the Tennessee Titans told quarterback Steve McNair that he could not longer use the club's practice facility as the team worked on options to trade him. McNair eventually won a grievance against the Titans, who then dealt the veteran to the Baltimore Ravens.
Culpepper, 30, met with general manager Randy Mueller early Wednesday morning, as Green was preparing to take the physical exam to finalize his trade, and was told that Miami would attempt to deal him to another team. Culpepper told Mueller then that he preferred to be released, rather than traded.
On Friday, after being told he would not be allowed to practice, Culpepper told reporters that he will not restructure his contract to accommodate a trade, essentially hinting that he hoped to force the Dolphins to release him. Culpepper is due a base salary of $5.5 million for 2007 on a contract that runs through the 2013 season.
Culpepper said Friday that he has already spoken to some teams that might be interested in him if he is released. If that is the case, officials from those teams might have breached NFL anti-tampering rules, since Culpepper remains under contract to the Dolphins.
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