Source: James wants release

Arizona Cardinals halfback Edgerrin James contacted Cardinals general manager Rod Graves on Tuesday and pleaded with him to be released, according to a source.

James, who was benched in the middle of last season, is entering the final year of his contract and is scheduled to make $5 million. He had lost his job to Tim Hightower, so he figured he would be released by the first of March.

James' concern, the source said, is that he's entering the free-agent market too late, with a number of potential options already closed. Derrick Ward took away a chance to go to Tampa Bay when he signed a four-year, $17 million contract. Cedric Benson re-signed in Cincinnati on Tuesday with a two-year, $7 million deal. Fred Taylor took away an option in New England when he signed a two-year, $5 million deal.

James assumes he's not going to be with the team this season because he figures Hightower will be the starter and the Cardinals wouldn't want a $5 million backup. But as of Tuesday night, James remains part of the Cardinals.

James has rushed for 12,121 yards during his NFL career, including 1,159 and 1,222 yards during his first two seasons with the Cardinals. Last year, he had only 514 yards on 133 carries.

He is 30 years old and is entering his 11th season.

John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.