All the fretting done by NFL teams and fans about whether the high-profile clients of agent Drew Rosenhaus would report to their training camps on time is turning out to be, at least so far, much worrying about nothing.
On Wednesday, two prominent players represented by who spent the offseason embroiled in contract disputes with their clubs -- Green Bay Packers wide receiver Javon Walker and Indianapolis Colts tailback Edgerrin James -- reported to camp on time.
Was that a foreshadowing of what will happen Monday, when wideout Terrell Owens is scheduled to report to the Philadelphia Eagles' camp? Owens has said publicly that he would report on time even if the Eagles reject his request for a new contract, although he wouldn't be happy about it. Rosenhaus has said that nothing is certain, and Owens could leave camp even if he reports.
The Eagles have rebuffed Rosenhaus's attempt to rework the seven-year, $48.97 million contract that Owens signed with the club last year. They say they have no intention of renegotiating a contract one season into a seven-year deal. Rosenhaus says that Owens has outperformed the contract and it's only fair that he be given a new deal.
But he also says that he doesn't like to have his clients hold out from training camps, and that is proving to be true. Walker had threatened to hold out if the Packers didn't rework the five-year contract that he signed with the team as a rookie in 2002. The deal included a $3 million signing bonus and a $1.3 million option bonus in 2003, and pays him salaries of $515,000 this season and $650,000 in 2006. He reached the Pro Bowl last season after amassing 89 catches for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Walker skipped the Packers' offseason activities, leading to public rebukes from quarterback Brett Favre. But the club apparently didn't budge -- although there was dialogue between the two sides within the past week and it's not clear what Packers officials told Rosenhaus -- and Walker showed up Wednesday.
James reported to the Colts' camp on the heels of an offseason in which the team agreed to explore the possibility of trading him but hasn't dealt him, at least not yet. In March, James signed the one-year, $8.081 million contract that the Colts offered him by naming him their franchise player.
If Owens doesn't report to camp, he can be fined by the Eagles and he opens the possibility of the team attempting to force him to return the bulk of the $2.3 million signing bonus he received last year. Owens's contract includes a $3.25 million salary for this season.
Steelers, Ward Negotiating
The Pittsburgh Steelers, who report to training camp Sunday, are attempting to negotiate a contract extension with wide receiver Hines Ward, who has one season remaining on his current deal. It's possible that Ward, who's represented by Eugene Parker and Roosevelt Barnes, will hold out from camp if he doesn't get a new contract. . . .
Owens might show up at the Eagles' camp Monday, but defensive tackle Corey Simon might not. Simon has not signed the one-year, $5.134 million contract that the Eagles offered him by placing the franchise-player tag on him in February. The Eagles nearly traded Simon, who's also represented by Parker and Barnes, to Baltimore during the offseason, but the Ravens balked at his salary demands for a long-term contract. . . .
Another still-unsigned player with the franchise-player tag, defensive end John Abraham, might be absent when the New York Jets report today. Abraham has not signed his one-year, $6.666 million franchise-player contract offer, and wants a long-term deal with a hefty signing bonus. . . .
The New England Patriots have placed defensive end Richard Seymour on their did-not-report list. Patriots veterans are not scheduled to report to camp until today, but Seymour, coming off an injury, was to report earlier. He wants the team to renegotiate a contract that has two seasons remaining on it. . . .
Carolina Panthers officials say they don't expect tailback Stephen Davis to be ready to practice when the club opens camp Friday. Davis is attempting to work his way back from career-threatening microfracture knee surgery but apparently will open training camp on the Panthers' physically-unable-to-perform list. He could be activated from that list at any time, once he passes a physical. . . .
The Miami Dolphins and agent Todd France have temporarily halted negotiations on a contract for tailback Ronnie Brown, the second player chosen in the NFL draft in April, until they see the final version of the six-year, $49.5 million contract that the draft's top overall pick, quarterback Alex Smith, signed with the San Francisco 49ers.
Smith's deal contains $24 million in bonus money, but the Dolphins want to see how the contract is structured -- and how and when Smith will receive that $24 million -- before proceeding in the Brown negotiations. The club apparently had hoped, before the Smith signing, to sign Brown to a deal containing less than $20 million in bonus money. Now that figure might have to be higher, perhaps as high as $22 million.
The bonus-money total in Smith's contract is 20 percent higher than the $20 million in bonus money that last year's top overall draft selection, quarterback Eli Manning, received as part of his six-year, $45 million contract with the New York Giants. The 49ers initially maintained in deliberations with agent Tom Condon, who represents both Smith and Manning, that Smith should get a contract less lucrative than Manning's, but Condon scoffed at that notion and the team eventually abandoned that negotiating stance. . . .
The Dolphins are negotiating with free-agent safety Lance Schulters, who was released by the Tennessee Titans last month, and could complete a deal today. . . .
Manuel Wright, Miami's rookie defensive tackle who left the practice field in tears Tuesday after being sternly lectured by Coach Nick Saban, was sidelined Wednesday by an ailing back. He was examined by a doctor and could be sidelined for at least a few days.