With Julius Peppers apparently ready to play another season in Carolina after signing his franchise tag tender, the most prominent veteran contract squabbles on the horizon are with Packers safety NIck Collins, Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin and Jets running back Thomas Jones.
Collins' situation moved to the front burner after wide receiver Greg Jennings was locked up to a long-term deal on Wednesday. Collins skipped most of the offseason program but was running with the No. 1 defense during last week's three-day minicamp.
"We'll see," Collins said when asked whether he would be in attendance for the first day of camp practices on Aug. 1. "I'm not saying I'm not going to be here. Put it that way."
Collins, who is entering the final year of his five-year rookie contract, is seeking a long-term deal after tying for the NFC high with seven interceptions and leading all NFL defenders with three touchdowns. While Collins applauded Jennings for striking it rich, he can't be sure that Packers general manager Ted Thompson has him next on the growing list of in-house players who have been taken care of during Thompson's five-year tenure. Part of Collins' rush is that he would lose out on unrestricted free agency if a new collective bargaining agreement isn't struck this year.
"They do a pretty good job with that," Collins said. "At the same time, who knows? You can't depend on them to make a move."
Boldin also asked for a trade that didn't happen and skipped the Cardinals' offseason program. He's not expected to hold out without a new contract, but it's possible.
Jones made a show of good faith by reporting to the team's June workouts. He's entering the third season of a four-year, $20 million deal but will make only $900,000 this year and it's uncertain if he will report to camp on time if a new agreement isn't worked out.
A few other contract issues to keep an eye on include:
— Eagles cornerback Sheldon Brown asked for a trade after the team declined to rework the remaining four years on his deal. He said he'll play the good soldier, but the Eagles proved with Lito Sheppard that they aren't afraid to bring in new bodies (Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs) and ship out a malcontent.
— Browns kick returner Josh Cribbs reported to the team's offseason program after a public backlash. The previous regime promised a new deal, according to Cribbs, but the new one hasn't indicated it's ready to do the same.
— Texans tight end Owen Daniels signed his one-year tender as a restricted free agent, but is one of the more likely holdout candidates if a multi-year agreement isn't reached.
— Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason hasn't made any holdout threats yet, but did indicate he might not be healthy enough to start camp following last season's shoulder injury. Whether that's a ploy to push ahead talks is uncertain. He's entering the final year of his deal.
— Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork said he doesn't necessarily have to be the highest-paid interior defensive player in the league, but he has made it clear he wants a new deal. His current one expires after 2010; he did show up to minicamps, but only time will tell if he'll report to training camp.
— Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield skipped OTAs after negotiations on a new contract broke down and is a candidate to stay away from training camp.
Peppers signed his one-year, $16.7 million tender after a tumultuous few months. He asked to be traded following last season and skipped the team's offseason program after a trade didn't materialize on draft day.
The former University of North Carolina star said he was "maxed out" in Carolina, and wanted to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. That immediately began rumors that Peppers could be headed to New England — and Packers fans were thrilled with the possibility of Green Bay using its cap space on him — but the Panthers had no intension of trading him and the former No. 2 overall pick in 2002 sounds prepared to play his eighth NFL season in Carolina.
"Recently, I've had positive and productive discussions with the organization," Peppers said in a statement released by his agent, Carl Carey. "I am optimistic and focused as I look forward to the upcoming NFL season."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.