Joe Banner Press Conference: 9-8-05

"I think you heard [RB] Brian's [Westbrook] comments today. We actually agreed last Thursday that at this point, we felt we could not get anything done and there was no point to have any further conversations. He still wants to be here and we still want him to be here, so at some point we will resume those conversations.

We have not had any discussions on what that would be. So, he becomes one of hundreds and hundreds of players in the last year of their contracts. It's not unusual. It's not a big deal. We remain optimistic that in the end, things will work out."

On being worried that Brian's anger will translate onto the field:
"That's your characterization. Every player in the league, in the last year of their deal would like to have a new contract. There is some degree of disappointment if you don't reach that. I think you all have seen how many players play spectacularly under those circumstances and have gone on to sign deals with their own team or sign somewhere else. To think that this is something dramatically different than that; we don't think that way at all. The conversations were very constructive, but that does not mean we agreed. The tone was positive. We are disappointed in the end, it did not get done. He is disappointed. But, we will revisit it. We still want him to be here and he still wants to be here and in the end we think it will have a positive outcome."

On what makes him think that they can get a deal done now, after not being able to get one done during camp:
"I think we will leave the particulars of that to the negotiations. But it's not unusual at all that you can't get a deal done at one time with any given player and you can get a deal done at a later date with that player."

On having the reputation of taking a hard line in contract negotiations and whether he worries about the effect of that on the players' perception of the organization:
"I think that if there was a reality to that, I would have more worry. I can't say it's irrelevant, but the reality is that we have had more players in the second and third years of their contracts than any team in the league. We have resigned more players early than any team in the league. We have provided lifelong financial security to our players more than any team in the league. The reality and the perception, which has been true in some instances, but not the general truth, are different. We are comfortable of where we are and how we treat people and will continue to do that."

On whether he feels Brian is like the hundreds of guys that are in the last year of their contracts:
"No, I think that he is better off than those hundreds of guys. Probably 95% of those guys didn't get an offer from their respective teams. So, I don't think that getting an offer, I think that most people know that it was not acceptable to him, but it was a significant offer, I think the level of disrespect, if there is any, obviously we would disagree with that characterization, is minor compared to, just look at the running back position alone and see who is going to be available next year and find out how many of those guys have gotten active, significant contract extension offers. You will see that number is very small. If I was measuring disrespect, I would think that was disrespectful, that a significant offer that wasn't as much as I thought I was worth."

On whether he thinks Brian is making a mistake by taking this personally:
"I have no problem with the process or anything Brian said today. I have no problem with him. He's had a long time where you all have asked him a lot of questions; he's very respectful to what's going on. He's very positive. Him and [agent] Fletcher [Smith], throughout the process of the negotiations, have acted completely constructively and professionally. He would like to have a contact and we wish we could get a deal done. At this point we have not been able to agree and I think he has handled the situation very well and I am hopeful that with time, we will come to the outcome that all of us want."

On whether he has to have a spectacular, injury free year for you to be convinced that his demands are correct:
"We are going to have to see what happens throughout the year. We are already convinced that Brian is a very good football player and a very valuable member of our team. Hopefully at some point, we can translate that into a contract that we both feel comfortable with."


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