''Not really,'' said Allen when asked by reporters whether a new deal for Gannon was in the works. ''I don't ever get into negotiating talk. But I don't think it's an issue.''
Gannon has reportedly been seeking to renegotiate the terms of his contract, which extends through 2005 but includes an out following the 2002 season. Gannon is scheduled to earn $2 million this year then $5 million in each subsequent season. Because Oakland is already well over the salary cap for next year, the team will have to dramatically reduce its payroll and Gannon, knowing this all too well, doesn't want his paycheck to get caught on the butcher's block.
Because Gannon has been one of the team's most outspoken proponents of attending offseason workouts and building team chemistry, his absence is most notable. While wide receiver Tim Brown,cornerback Eric Allen, punter Shane Lechler and kicker Sebastian Janikowski were also missing from the first day of mini-camp, neither's absence was being scrutinized as heavily as Gannon's.
His teammates, however, say they're not overly concerned. Not yet, at least.
''If it goes into June maybe we should start worrying a little bit,'' said wide receiver Jerry Rice. ''If it goes into July, watch out.''
With Gannon not around and with back-up Bobby Hoying still rehabbing from offseason elbow surgery, second-year quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo and newcomer Rick Mirer split duties running the first-team offense in workouts Friday. Tuiasosopo, who threw just four passes in the regular season last year, handled the majority of snaps and welcomed the opportunity to get work in with the starting unit.
''It's vital for me to get these reps with the first and second units,'' said Tuiasosopo. ''If Rich was here I'd get a couple but not as many. So it's nice to get out there and get the work in.''