By Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY
Tarik Glenn is a patient man. The Indianapolis Colts left tackle, whose Secret Service-like occupation requires him to protect quarterback Peyton Manning's blind side, is entering the final year of his contract but has refused to ram his 6-5, 332-pound redwood of a body through general manager Bill Polian's door in search of a deal.
Glenn, 31, knows he can command a nice bump from the $4.5 million salary he's due this season. The Colts will get their Super Bowl XLI title rings Wednesday, and Glenn anchors a line that allowed an NFL-low 15 sacks.
Then there are the astronomical contracts less-proven linemen have scored on the free agent market. Eric Steinbach and Derrick Dockery got seven-year deals in March worth at least $49 million — with no less than $17 million guaranteed — from the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills, respectively.
And neither plays the more demanding left tackle spot, the closest thing to a skill position on the line because it means usually facing the defense's best pass-rusher.
None of this makes Glenn sweat. He's taking the opposite approach of Pittsburgh Steelers all-pro guard Alan Faneca, who has skipped team drills and declared this will be his last season in the black and gold. Faneca, off six consecutive Pro Bowls, told reporters recently he is concerned an injury this season could decrease his value.
"I've made enough money in my career," Glenn, who has earned three consecutive Pro Bowl bids, said last week. "If I get hurt, that's just the way it's supposed to go. I don't knock anybody if they have a different approach, and I respect Alan Faneca so much. But I don't worry about it. There were times when I didn't get to the Pro Bowl and they gave me Pro Bowl money. Good things will happen if you work hard and not burn bridges."
That has to be a relief to Polian, whose top priority is signing all-pro defensive end Dwight Freeney, with a franchise player tag that guarantees him $9.46 million this season under the $109 million salary cap.
Freeney, a premier pass rusher, plays a role that ranks with quarterback and left tackle among the most crucial in building a team.
If the Colts can sign Freeney to a long-term deal that lowers his cap number, it could create cap space to move on a deal for Glenn.
Polian says talks with Freeney's agent, Gary Wichard, are progressing. "We'll get that one done first," Polian added. "Then we will sit down and get a clear picture, to see what our cash looks like, coupled with the cap, to then project it for the future."
July 15 is a significant date in this mix. A tweak of the new collective bargaining agreement struck last year prevented teams from negotiating with franchise players after that date. In the past, a team could lower its cap number if it struck a new deal after the player signed the tender as a franchise player. If the Colts don't re-sign Freeney by mid-July, the task of striking a deal with Glenn becomes more daunting.
Unlike some general managers, Polian is not against negotiating after the season begins. Glenn's agent, Ralph Cindrich, sometimes advises clients to cut off talks after the season begins, because with each passing day they are closer to free agency.
But Cindrich also says he does what the client wants.
"The team understands," Glenn says. "If they want to invest in me, I'm willing. If their plans are to go in a different direction, I understand the business."
Glenn's 2007 salary isn't even half of the $10.6 million Baltimore Ravens star left tackle Jonathan Ogden earned last season.
But new deal or not, Glenn does not sound like a man worried about job security.
Says Glenn, "There's a desperate need for left tackles throughout the league."
It'll definitely interesting after next year, since his replacement has already been drafted. Granted Ugoh could play RT for a year or so, but Tarik is going to want a long term deal with many bonuses.