Colts' James might be on trading block

Posted: Thursday, March 10, 2005

Two-time NFL rushing champion Edgerrin James might be on the trading block and could be a big bargain for someone.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus says the Indianapolis Colts are not demanding a first-round draft pick in exchange for the running back.

James, the Colts' career rushing leader, was designated the team's franchise player last month. Now Rosenhaus, who said he spoke with Colts president Bill Polian on Wednesday, is looking for a trade.

''The bottom line is that I talked to the Colts today, and he doesn't think he can get a long-term deal done,'' Rosenhaus said.

Polian told The Associated Press that he would not discount trading James, a cornerstone of one of the NFL's top offenses.

James has carried the ball a franchise-record 1,828 times, more than all but four of the NFL's top 10 rushers had in their first six years. But he is just 26 years old and coming off his best season since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in 2001.

He rushed for 1,548 yards and nine touchdowns, caught 51 passes for 483 yards and earned his third selection to the AFC Pro Bowl team in 2004.

In six years, James has rushed 7,720 yards and 51 touchdowns and caught 312 passes for 2,502 yards. Three times he has topped 2,000 yards from scrimmage in a season.

But the non-exclusive franchise tag would cost the Colts slightly more than $8 million. If another team signed James and the Colts did not match the offer within seven days, Indianapolis would get two first-round draft picks.

James has said he wants a long-term deal, which probably would force the Colts to hand out another multimillion dollar signing bonus.

Team owner Jim Irsay has already agreed to more than $40 million in bonuses since December by re-signing receivers Marvin Harrison and Brandon Stokley and right tackle Ryan Diem to long-term contracts.

Irsay also gave Peyton Manning, the league's two-time MVP, a $34.5 million signing bonus last March.

For the Colts, another long-term deal appears to be too much.

The New York Jets finalized their deal with receiver Laveranues Coles.

The 27-year-old Coles returned to the club after spending two years in Washington. He was acquired for Santana Moss in a swap of receivers were unhappy with their respective teams' conservative offenses last year.

The deal was agreed on Saturday, but Coles and Moss needed to pass physicals to make the trade official. Coles passed his Wednesday, Moss on Monday.

Coles and Pennington had great chemistry in 2002, when the receiver had 89 catches for 1,264 yards and six touchdowns. But Coles bolted for Washington following that season, when the Redskins offered a lucrative contract the Jets refused to match.

He was unhappy with his role in Joe Gibbs' offense, despite catching 90 passes for 950 yards last season, and asked for the trade.

It also was a good day for over-30 receivers.

Keenan McCardell got the payday he was seeking in San Diego, Ricky Proehl decided to return to Carolina for his 16th season and tight end Jermaine Wiggins was rewarded for a career year and re-signed with Minnesota.

The 35-year-old McCardell, who caught two touchdown passes for Tampa Bay when it won the 2003 Super Bowl, got a $4.1 million signing bonus from San Diego, according to a source with knowledge of the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity.

With the extension, McCardell will average $3.45 million the next three years.

McCardell was the NFL's last holdout in 2004, missing the first six games — and nearly $710,000 in pay — because he was unhappy the Bucs didn't give him the ''fair market'' deal he wanted.

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