Sports Illustrated's Michael Silver interviewed Edgerrin James earlier this month and unearthed some of the the Colts' running back's frustration with his current situation in Indy.
In his article, James unhappy with Colts and how NFL RBs are paid, Silver spoke to James about his franchise tag one-year contract and heard James draw an interesting parallel between himself and Martha Stewart, who was able to get out of a stock deal before it went sour, even though it cost her five months in jail.
"It worked out for her," James is quoted as saying in the article. "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."
James asserts that the Colts should have signed him to a longterm deal so they could have bolstered their defense instead of taking a huge salary cap hit with his one-year deal and appears to hint that he believes they are on the verge of a decline -- and one that he won't have to stick around to watch.
Since signing him to another franchise tag deal would likely cost the club close to $10 million next year, James appears convinced that this is his last year wearing a Colts uniform.
"It'll be nice, in a way, knowing that this is my last year there," James is quoted as saying. "I can just enjoy and appreciate it and know I'm moving on....This is like my lost senior year -- except I'm getting paid a hell of a lot of money."
So what's it all mean? Well it doesn't clear up the question of whether or not James will show up for opening day of training camp on Wednesday, but it's obvious he does plan to play for the Colts this season and "enjoy the ride" as he says in the article.
The good news for the Colts is that if he's convinced that he will be hitting the unrestricted free agent market at the end of this season, he has plenty of reason to go out and have a huge season to boost his stock with prospective employers. The key question is whether or not he can do it without becoming an anathema in the locker room, hurting the team's chances of winning a Super Bowl.
Count on this. Whenever he shows up, the first few days are likely to be quite lively in the media. How he handles his personal contract squabble in those first few days could set the tone for the entire season. A militant, brash, self-focused approach would tear at the team from the start. A quiet, let's-get-down-to-business attitude will reflect more of a team focus that will keep the media from turning the story into an ongoing soap opera during the 2005 season.
Perhaps the best thing to do would be for the Colts to publicly acknowledge that they share his opinion about it likley being his last year in Indy -- and that they look forward to winning a Super Bowl with him while he positions himself for the next step in his career.
A united front would be better positioning for everyone involved in this Super Bowl run than to put them through more than 20 weeks of nagging rumors and speculation that could evolve into loathing and dissension.
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