Contract dispute may lead Seahawks' Engram to skip training camp
The 35-year-old veteran, who had a team-record and career-high 94 receptions last season, said Sunday his contract dispute may keep him away when training camp begins at the end of July. Engram has been skipping voluntary minicamps that conclude this week because he wants more than the final year and $1.7 million he has remaining on his two-year deal.
Because training camp is mandatory for all players under contract, the Seahawks could fine him for missing any of it.
"It's a possibility," Engram told The Herald of Everett and Seattle television station KCPQ on Sunday, while at a charity golf tournament. "We'll see what happens."
Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren hasn't spoken with Engram since the veteran dropped a letter onto the desks of Holmgren and team president Tim Ruskell in early May informing them he would not be attending minicamps.
Yet last week, Holmgren said of Engram, "Absolutely, he will be here at training camp."
Seattle appears unwilling to re-negotiate with Engram until the current deal ends -- not surprising given he will be 36 in January.
"In my mind, we'd like to see a new deal, a couple-year extension," Engram said, just before teeing off in a golf tournament benefiting the athletic department at Cedar Park Christian High School.
When asked what he would do if he doesn't get one, Engram said, "I'm not ready to make that decision yet. But [holding out of training camp] is a possibility."
The Seahawks also are missing veterans Deion Branch and D.J. Hackett from their formerly deep receiving corps. Branch is recovering from reconstructive surgery on the knee he injured in January's playoff loss at Green Bay. He may not be ready for the season opener Sept. 7 at Buffalo. Hackett signed a free-agent contract with Carolina in the offseason.
Nate Burleson is the only proven veteran receiver practicing with the team. He was also the kickoff and punt returner last season. Ben Obomanu, a third-year player, is the only other Seahawks receiver to catch a pass in the NFL. He had the first 12 receptions of his career last season.
Engram's career year in 2007 filled the void when Branch spent much of the season injured. Engram arrived in Seattle from Chicago before the 2001 season and led the Seahawks with 67 catches in 2005 during their run to the Super Bowl. After he played in only seven games in 2006 because of a thyroid condition that made it difficult for Engram to get off his couch for weeks, Seattle signed him to a two-year contract that paid him $1.7 million in his record-setting '07.
"I think that everyone is in agreement that I've outplayed that deal," Engram said Sunday. "I can't force their hand, and I'm not trying to force their hand.
"I'm at peace with this decision, and it's not coming from a place of ego or pride. I'm just trying to get something done that will be fair. It's a business decision on both sides, and I understand where they're coming from. But I have to do what I think is best for me in my career."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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