Free-agent cornerback Ty Law is closing in on signing with a new team. The New York Jets appear to be the front-runner among the approximately half-dozen clubs in pursuit, but they and other interested teams have been balking at Law's contract demands.
Law and his agents, brothers Carl and Kevin Poston, apparently have been seeking a long-term deal worth about $6 million per season. But there are lingering concerns league-wide about the foot injury that caused Law, a four-time Pro Bowl selection with the New England Patriots, to miss the second half of last season and kept him from signing with a team during the offseason. The Patriots released him in February, a move that saved the defending Super Bowl champions $9.8 million on this season's salary cap.
According to an executive with one of the teams interested in Law, the cornerback is eager to play in New York and would prefer to sign with the Jets. But the two sides have been unable to agree to a contract. The Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs also appear to be on the top tier of teams chasing Law, and the Miami Dolphins and Pittsburgh Steelers could be in the mix as well.
Eagles Upset With Westbrook
Agent Fletcher Smith was scheduled to meet with tailback Brian Westbrook on Tuesday in the D.C. area to determine their next move in their contract dispute with the Philadelphia Eagles. Westbrook is holding out from the Eagles' training camp after signing the one-year, $1.43 million contract that the team tendered to him during the offseason in restricted free agency.
Eagles officials made no attempt Tuesday to hide their displeasure with Westbrook's absence from the opening practice of training camp for the club's veteran players.
"I expect him to be here and I think it's a player's loss if he's not here," Coach Andy Reid said following the afternoon practice at Lehigh University. "It gives other players opportunities to step up. . . . I was surprised that he wasn't here. . . . I think we're being very fair with this thing. . . . I think he needs to be here and to practice. He's under contract to do that."
The Eagles were negotiating a new contract with Westbrook before being informed by Smith on Monday afternoon, about four hours before the team's veterans were scheduled to report to camp, that Westbrook would hold out. The talks had stalled, but Eagles President Joe Banner said he didn't feel they had reached an impasse.
"We were certainly at a point where we had a gap in his expectations and our comfort level," Banner said. "Whether or not we would have been able to close that gap, I'm not sure. But we felt that we were in productive contract negotiations."
Correll Buckhalter, who missed all of last season because of a knee injury, practice with the Eagles' starters Tuesday with Westbrook not on hand. . . .
Banner said Tuesday he's hopeful but less than certain that wide receiver Terrell Owens will be able to put his summer of discontent with the team behind him and have another superb season.
"Confidence is a degree," Banner said. "He is a very prideful and very competitive guy. He is very proud of his ability to play football, and I think he is prideful of his own performance and his team's performance. So I think there is reason to be hopeful about that. But I don't think we know yet. The story is unfinished."
A few hours before Owens participated in Tuesday's practice, Banner and Reid met with Owens and agent Drew Rosenhaus in a dorm at Lehigh. The Eagles remained adamant that they wouldn't renegotiate Owens's seven-year, $48.97 million contract after one season, and Rosenhaus reiterated that Owens was unhappy about the deal but would act in a professional manner this season.
"T.O. obviously still does not feel that the contract is what he seeks," Banner said. "In the meantime, though, they were with us to reiterate their commitment to him being here, behaving well, being a good football player and contributing hopefully to our goals for this season. . . . I don't think it would be fair to say that T.O. left without still being frustrated. But, listen, there are a lot of players in the NFL that have varying degrees of satisfaction with their contracts.
" . . . T.O. and Drew know exactly how we feel and why we feel the way we do, and we know exactly what they feel and why they feel the way they do. This meeting was not intended to kind of relive all of that. That would have been a little bit more provocative than either party wanted at this point."
Banner made it clear that the Eagles have no intention of budging at any point in the Owens deliberations because of the precedent that would be set.
"In the long run, we would have created a situation where people wouldn't have been able to rely on us meaning what we say," Banner said. " . . . That was an important principle for us to hold onto." . . .
Cornerback Jerry Azumah left the Chicago Bears' camp to get a second medical opinion on his ailing hip. . . .
Miami signed free agent Alonzo Ephraim, formerly of the Eagles, for depth at center. Center Wade Smith suffered a broken forearm during a practice Monday and likely will be sidelined until early in the regular season. . . .
The Dolphins and agent Todd France have been about $3 million apart in recent days in their haggling over how much bonus money should be in the contract of tailback Ronnie Brown, the second overall choice in the NFL draft in April. One person familiar with the negotiations said the Dolphins have been offering about $19 million in bonus money as part of the deal, while France has been seeking about $22 million. Quarterback Alex Smith, the top overall selection in the draft, got $24 million in bonus money as part of his six-year, $49.5 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers. . . .
Smith has been working with the starters in the 49ers' practices.