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BluBlood
07-27-2005, 04:45 PM
James unhappy with Colts and how NFL RBs are paid

With his dreadlocks, gold teeth and perpetually casual attire Edgerrin James would seem an unlikely candidate to compare himself to a certain recently imprisoned domestic-style maven. But there the Colts' star halfback was earlier this month, riding down Atlanta's Peachtree Ave. in the passenger seat of an SUV positioning himself as the would-be cover boy for the next issue of Martha Stewart Living.
James was talking about his contract situation for 2005 -- the team "franchised" the would-be free agent in February, committing more than $8 million of Indy's salary-cap allotment in the process -- and the impact it might have on the Colts' competitive fortunes. Had Indy lowered James' cap number by signing him to the long-term deal he desires, James reasoned, the Colts could have shored up a defense that ranked 29th in the NFL in 2004.
"Other teams went out and got some free agents, but we basically sat back and kept it status quo," James complained. "I guess there wasn't any cap room."
Then, James flashed his Ft. Knox smile and continued, "You know what? What's happening to me might be good. I might be getting the Martha Stewart treatment. On that stock thing she got the heads up before the whole thing blew."
I asked James to clarify, and he explained that the Colts -- like the entity in which Stewart had stock before she was warned to sell it -- might also be headed for a drastic decline. By now, he had Stewart on the brain. "It worked out for her," he said. "She got five months in jail, a slap on the wrist, and she's still getting paid. The way I look at it, I've got five months to serve, too."
Whether James is clairvoyant or merely intent on incurring his bosses' wrath -- or both -- remains to be seen. But no matter what happens in Indy in 2005 and beyond, his life in a Colts uniform will no longer be all milk and cookies. At least in the short term, James' dreams have been dashed by a system which has become increasingly less fruitful for productive veteran running backs, and now he seems to regard himself as little more than a mercenary -- albeit one of the more highly compensated mercenaries the world has witnessed.
James isn't asking you to pity his plight, or even to relate to it. He's simply trying to do business in an environment that seems stacked against him. Was it merely a coincidence that the market collapsed on All-Pros James and Seahawks halfback Shaun Alexander this past offseason (and, until his recent trade from Buffalo to Tennessee, former Pro-Bowl runner Travis Henry as well)? Or are veteran running backs now locked in a Catch 22: Any runner who demonstrates his enduring productivity by the end of his rookie contract will then be deemed to have too much tread on him to be worth signing to another long-term deal?
Teams don't mind paying a running back, as long as the situation is right," insists Jim Steiner, who represents Alexander and numerous NFL players. "But it really relates to supply and demand. There really is no market right now for a highly paid veteran running back whose team is also asking for compensation."
Thus Alexander, who is entering his sixth season, and James, who's in his seventh, seem out of luck in their attempts to land the type of long-term deals they feel they deserve. Whereas James plans to report to Colts training camp Wednesday, five days before his 27th birthday, he will likely find a way to avoid joining the team on its trip to Tokyo for an Aug. 6 exhibition game against the Falcons. (As he says in the story I wrote for the current issue of Sports Illustrated, "The closest I'm going to get to Tokyo is Benihana.") Alexander, meanwhile, has not signed his one-year tender offer (for $6.32 million) and will likely miss at least the first part of training camp while reportedly continuing to negotiate with the team on a potential multi-year deal.


Either of these runners could've been had, in theory, for less than a first-round draft choice in the offseason -- so long as the team that made the trade was willing to pony up a hefty signing bonus. This combination kept any suitor from emerging, a fact that wasn't as surprising to league insiders as it was to those of us on the outside.
"The reason there hasn't been a trade," James says, "is that teams know they have to give something to the Colts and shell out the money -- that's two pills to swallow. One thing about [Colts president Bill] Polian, he knows this league like nobody. He can anticipate all of the moves. He knew what was going on."
"Anytime you have players of that caliber, I think there's the misconception that trades involving players like those are easy to make," Falcons general manager Rich McKay says. "Five years or so ago, teams found great success with tagging guys (as franchise players) and trading them. I don't know that with cap space as hard to create as it is in this era, it's going to happen that way anymore."
Yet McKay concedes veteran running backs, in particular, may be affected adversely. "There's always been the perception that running backs have less shelf life than others," he says. "It's a very tough position to play. You take a lot of hits from a lot of angles. There's also the perception that you can draft a running back and he can play right away."
Never was that more apparent than this past April when, for the first time, three halfbacks went in the top five of the draft, while two other (J.J. Arrington, with Arizona and Eric Shelton, with Carolina) potential contributors were selected in the second round.
"This was a year when all the stars were aligned," Polian says. "It was a unique market. I can't remember when you had three guys drafted in the top five and another two in the second round. The teams with needs went for running backs in the draft, for the most part." The crazy thing is, while McKay is correct that the NFL has seen its share of immediate-impact runners, the opposite has also been true. For every Terrell Davis or LaDainian Tomlinson who instantly announced themselves as big-time NFL runners, there has been a Lawrence Phillips or a Ki-Jana Carter who was lost while attempting to make the transition. Some collegiate studs find that as the size of the holes shrink and their ability to outrun defenders is curtailed, they're not as tough to stop as they assumed.
Yet even the ones who thrive from the outset count on the kind of lucrative second contract stars at other prominent positions typically command. Steiner, who represents No. 5-pick Cadillac Williams, says his negotiations with the Buccaneers are being handled "delicately, with an eye for the future, based on the downside of him possibly playing out his contract and being a 28-year-old running back. I think you have to look at those things today."
James, meanwhile, can't help but look ahead to next year, when he will again be a free agent -- unless, of course, the Colts decide to franchise him. At that point, his one-year tender would be close to $10 million, making such a cap hit even more prohibitive than it was in 2005.
"They'll have to do something," James said as the S.U.V. barreled down Peachtree. "I can't imagine them keeping me at that price. It'll be nice, in a way, knowing that this is my last year there -- I can just enjoy and appreciate it and know I'm moving on. You know how I left college early? This is like that year I could've stayed. This is like my lost senior year -- except I'm getting paid a hell of a lot of money."
With that, James flashed a triumphant grin that would have made a certain domestic-style maven proud and rolled down the car window. "All I can do now," he said, "is sit back and enjoy the ride."

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2005/writers/michael_silver/07/26/silver.edge/1.html

Diamond Dave
07-27-2005, 04:50 PM
Wow...simply wow.

If I thought anyone would give us anything I'd do it in a heartbeat. Matter of fact he loves Miami so much, I suggest that we trade him to Green Bay. Now that would be justice.

Believe_in_blue
07-27-2005, 06:04 PM
This is like my lost senior year -- except I'm getting paid a hell of a lot of money."

Hopefully he has a Heisman year.

Pacers#1Fan
07-28-2005, 11:36 AM
What a HUGE suprise :violin::bawl:. Hay Edge why don't you just go count your' millions! I get so :censored: tired of listening to these big rich babies:pissed:. I think those guys just need a good :censored: kicking:beat:. Edge, you signed the contract :signit: so just SHUT UP:scream:!!! To all of you players that are getting millions of dollars to play a game and still aren't happy:finger:!!!

Hoop
07-28-2005, 08:09 PM
I'm so sick of the Edge whining, what a d*ck. I think we can do just as well without him.

canyoufeelit
07-28-2005, 09:55 PM
Didn't see it in this article, but he makes a point in the magazine version that I tend to agree with: Edge wants a long-term deal and is unhappy because the franchise tender he signed is gonna prohibit the Colts from signing FAs that can help with the defense, he fears the Colts will slip back into the rest of the pack.