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From the Colts Website.........

 

Team Places Franchise Tag on Three-Time Pro Bowl Back

INDIANAPOLIS – The status of running back Edgerrin James’ has been a pressing issue surrounding the Colts throughout the off-season.

 

That hasn’t changed.

 

And Colts President Bill Polian isn’t sure when it will.

 

James, one of the NFL’s top players at his position this past season, was the subject of much discussion inside and outside the Colts’ organization in recent weeks. On Tuesday afternoon, the Colts ensured he will remain so for the immediate future, placing the NFL’s “non-exclusive” franchise label on the three-time Pro Bowl selection.

 

Under the non-exclusive label, James will make $8.1 million next season if he signs the franchise agreement.

 

“The situation is fluid,” Polian said.

 

Polian said the Colts tried in recent weeks to discuss a new contract with James, who was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent March 2. But James, as of Tuesday, did not have an agent, a situation Polian said prevented the Colts from making progress toward determining James’ long-term future with the team.

 

Under the non-exclusive tag, another team may offer James a contract. If that happens, the Colts can match the offer or receive two first-round draft selections as compensation if they choose not to match.

 

“I don’t know what it is that I have to discuss with whomever I’m going to have to discuss it with,” Polian said. “My intention is to sit down with whomever he chooses to represent him at whatever time is appropriate and begin discussion.

 

“That’s all I can tell you. I don’t know what the landscape is today and I won’t know until I sit down with whomever the individual is at some time in the future.”

 

The Colts also on Tuesday announced the re-signing of offensive right tackle Ryan Diem, a move that kept the four-year veteran from becoming a free agent, and they have agreed in principle on a contract with free-agent running back Dominic Rhodes.

 

Diem has started the past two seasons at right tackle, and Rhodes – an 1,100-yard rusher as a rookie in 2001 – has been a key reserve and kickoff returner the past two seasons after missing 2002 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

 

“We felt it was very important because he’s an important part of our team and an important part of our franchise,” Polian said of Diem.

 

Polian added that signing Diem means the Colts have signed their two starting tackles – Diem and left tackle Tarik Glenn – as well as center Jeff Saturday to long-term deals.

 

“That’s what our master plan calls for,” Polian said. “That’s not to dismiss (free-agent guard) Rick DeMulling, because if there’s a way to get Rick back, we’ll do it. But the tackles and the center signed long-term are what we believe are critical to keep in this league.”

 

Including re-signing wide receivers Brandon Stokley and Marvin Harrison late last season, Colts Owner and Chief Executive Officer Jim Irsay has committed more than $40 million in signing bonuses in the last year, Polian said.

 

“Let no one think that Jim’s desire, or (Colts Head Coach) Tony (Dungy)’s or mine, to win and continue at the top level of this league, is diminished in any way,” Polian said.

 

“Jim is putting his money where my mouth is,” Polian added, smiling.

 

The decision to franchise James came after numerous failed efforts to contact him and begin discussions on the matter in recent weeks, Polian said.

 

James’ former agent, Jeffrey Moorad, recently became the Arizona Diamondbacks’ chief executive officer. Polian said the Colts initially tried to contact James’ then-agent of record, Scott Parker, several weeks ago, suggesting they talk as soon as possible.

 

Polian did not hear from Parker, and contacted him again last week.

 

“He was fairly vague in the conversation,” Polian said.

 

Later in the week, the Colts received notification Parker no longer represented James. Polian said the lone contact between James and the team during recent weeks was a telephone conversation between James and Irsay this past weekend. During that conversation, James’ main issue was that he did not want to play under a one-year contract, Polian said.

 

“The only thing he could glean from the conversation was that Edgerrin was looking for a long-term deal and did not relish the thought of a one-year deal,” Polian said.

 

Polian said that left the Colts “in a quandary.”

 

“We had no one to negotiate with and we had no idea what the parameters would be on any future negotiation and we had no idea who the negotiator would be,” Polian said. “We only knew that Edgerrin did not want to play on a one-year contract.

 

“That is not the stuff of which agreements are made, so therefore we had a fairly good quandary on our hands.”

 

Polian, Irsay, Dungy and Assistant General Manager-Football Operations and Pro Personnel Chris Polian met throughout the weekend, deciding late Tuesday morning to place the non-exclusive tag on James.

 

That allows the Colts the maximum flexibility, Polian said.

 

“It allows us at some appropriate time, when Edgerrin chooses an agent, to sit down with him and begin some discussion,” Polian said.

 

The Colts now have a 14-day “window” to work a deal with James or otherwise decide his future. If no decision is made in 14 days, the Colts and James may negotiate again beginning July 15.

 

“Our knowledge of what Edgerrin and his representatives ultimately may feel is appropriate is nil at this point,” Polian said.

 

A team can pull the franchise tag off a player “with good and sufficient reason” and also said a team may trade a player under the franchise label, Polian said.

 

Tuesday was the first day teams could officially release veterans under contract. Polian said the Colts could make such moves, but had not yet done so. He also said the status of the Colts’ other 10 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents – including guard Rick DeMulling, middle linebacker Rob Morris, safety Idrees Bashir and cornerback Nick Harper – has not yet been determined.

 

“We’ll talk with each of their agents or them going forward to see where they are,” Polian said. “We’re going to wait until we get the final accounting of the (salary) cap. We believe we know where we are within a few thousand dollars, but you always want to make sure it marries up with what the league has on record.

 

“We’ll do that within the next couple of days. Then, we’ll take a look at what we may or may not do with the people who are unrestricted free agents. If we have any other moves to make, it won’t come until next week.

 

“That’s a discussion that has yet to take place.”

 

Restricted free agents defensive tackle Raheem Brock, cornerback Joseph Jefferson, running back James Mungro, guard Tupe Peko, defensive end Nick Rogers and linebacker David Thornton all will receive tender offers “at appropriate levels.”

 

Extending tender offers to the restricted free agents assures the Colts the right of first refusal.

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Edge is weird. If I remember correctly, he really didn't have an agent when he originally signed with the Colts. A team of lawyers and his brother negotiated the contact, and then had an agent submit it for a flat fee. Edge hasn't talked to the media in a couple years. He disappears down in Immokalee, Florida in the off-season. This deal won't get done in the window period in next two weeks, and I have serious doubts that a long term deal gets done at all. It doesn't look like Edge is too concerned about it, so why should the Colts? See ya at training camp, Edge!

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In related news, the Colts also signed Dominic Rhodes to a two year extension, just in case this whole franchise tag thing gets messy:

 

 

Perhaps girding themselves for the possibility that Edgerrin James could be a training camp holdout, the Indianapolis Colts on Tuesday signed reserve tailback Dominic Rhodes to a two-year contract extension, ESPN.com has learned.

 

 

The contract, which includes a $2 million signing bonus, totals more than $4 million. By signing the four-year veteran to the extension, the Colts will keep Rhodes off the unrestricted free-agent market. The league free-agent signing period begins on March 2.

 

 

Rhodes, 26, has been an excellent backup to James, who on Tuesday was designated by the Colts as a franchise free agent, as anticipated.

 

 

In 2001, when James missed most of the season to a knee injury, Rhodes became the first undrafted college free agent in league history to rush for 1,000 yards as a rookie. He carried 233 times for 1,104 yards and nine touchdowns that season, appearing in 15 games and starting 10.

 

 

Ironically, the following year, when James returned, Rhodes suffered a similar knee injury that sidelined him the entire campaign.

 

 

A former Midwestern State (Texas) University standout, Rhodes has been primarily utilized as a short-yardage and goal-line back the past two seasons. Last season, he carried 53 times for 254 yards and one touchdown. Rhodes was productive as a kickoff returner, averaging 27.7 yards on 48 runbacks.

 

 

While Indianapolis is just 3-7 in Rhodes' 10 career starting assignments, retaining him does provide Colts officials the security of having a back who knows the offensive system under contract for the next two seasons. While not regarded leaguewide as a starting-caliber tailback, Rhodes is a very solid player, and the uncertainty of James' future with the club only enhances his value.

 

 

After tagging James with the franchise marker on Tuesday, which essentially means the Colts have tendered a one-year qualifying offer worth $6.3 million, Indianapolis officials reiterated their desire to negotiate a long-term agreement with him. But James is currently without an agent and team officials acknowledged that complicates matters.

 

 

There is also the chance that James, if irked by the franchise designation, could decide to sit out training camp.

 

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Tony Dungy is neither a clairvoyant nor experienced in the various workings of the non-exclusive franchise designation the Indianapolis Colts affixed to running back Edgerrin James earlier this week.

 

But looking ahead, he doesn't anticipate the uncertainty surrounding the team's career rushing leader turning into a distraction.

 

"Hopefully we can get it worked out to where he's happy and we're happy and it makes sense for both sides," Dungy said during a break this morning from the National Football Scouting Combine. "If it does, I think it will be great."

 

The franchise tag is a one-year contract which for James carries an $8.08 million salary. He likely will not participate in any team functions -- minicamp, summer school, training camp -- until his situation is resolved. That might consist of him signing a long-term contract with the Colts, signing an offer sheet with another team that the Colts can match, or being traded.

 

The history of "franchised" players generally includes a prolonged absence that extends well into training camp. It's a history the Colts considered before tagging James.

 

His possible absence from team activities, Dungy said, "won't be a distraction because that's what's allowed in this system. If it does come down to that, he's within his rights to do that.

 

"We don't think it's going to come to that. We think we'll have a resolution long before that."

 

Dungy admitted he has not had a lot of experience dealing with players who have been slapped with the franchise tag, but understands the player's displeasure over being tagged.

 

"It's not that they're saying, 'Hey, I don't want eight million dollars,"' he said. "It's, 'Here is the alternative if I was a free agent and I was out there negotiating, or I had a long term deal that would make me the happiest."'

 

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Edge picked his agent:

 

 

Indianapolis Colts tailback Edgerrin James has another new agent and Drew Rosenhaus has himself another high-profile client. Call it the marriage of a power runner with a power broker.

 

 

Rosenhaus and league sources confirmed Monday that James, who last week dismissed Scott Parker, will now be represented by an agent who now has more clients than any of the agents certified by the NFL Players Association. Even in the ever-burgeoning galaxy of stars that comprise Rosenhaus' clientele -- he is now retained by about 90 NFL players -- James is a big catch.

 

"It just makes sense for a lot of reasons," said Rosenhaus, who like James, resides in the Miami area.

 

It is believed that Rosenhaus is now the fourth different agent to represent James since the star tailback entered the league in 1999.

 

While Rosenhaus has yet to talk with Indianapolis management, at least Colts officials now have someone to speak to in dealings with their perennial Pro Bowl runner. The Colts last week designated James a "franchise" player, assigning him a qualifying offer of $8.01 million on a one-year deal. General manager Bill Polian later lamented that the club had little recourse, since the player had no representation.

 

"We had no one to negotiate with and no one to tell us what Edgerrin was thinking," Polian said. "That is not the stuff of which (contract) agreements are made."

 

Colts owner Jim Irsay has consistently noted that his goal is to sign James to the kind of long-term contract awarded to the team's two other offensive stars, quarterback Peyton Manning and wide receiver Marvin Harrison. With Rosenhaus now conducting the talks for James, the Colts will be able to bargain with one of the league's premier dealmakers.

 

Even before the James-Rosenhaus accord, coach Tony Dungy was optimistic Saturday that a long-term deal could be struck before the start of training camp. There is some concern, of course, that James, who frequently skips much of the organized offseason work, could hold out if he doesn't land a long-term contract.

 

"Hopefully, we can get it worked out to where he's happy and we're happy, and it makes sense for both sides," Dungy said.

 

James, 26, has rushed for 7,720 yards and 51 touchdowns in six seasons. He has been over 1,200 yards in all but the 2001 season, a campaign in which he suffered a severe knee injury that limited him to just six appearances.

 

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Edited by CaptainHook
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Come on Miami.

 

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Come on Miami what? Do you think they are going to offer a first round draft pick, considering they don't have a second or third this year? Do you think they can clear enough cap space for a huge new free agent running back? Last I checked they are $17 milllion over. Why would they want a running back who has 3-4 good/great years left? They have no QB. The defense is old. This team needs a total overhaul. Bringing Edge in at this point is shining the brass on the Titanic. They need young players. They need to rebuild. They would be insane to try and trade for Edge or Alexander.

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