Veteran will play when Bucs agree to pay him like one of the league's top receivers.
By ROGER MILLS
Published June 24, 2004
TAMPA - The agent for receiver Keenan McCardell said Wednesday there appears to be a stalemate in resolving the contract dispute that is keeping the Bucs' leading receiver from minicamp.
Responding to statements made by general manager Bruce Allen on Tuesday, Gary Uberstine said the 12-year veteran is prepared to not only miss training camp but part, if not all, of the season."There is and will be no resolution in sight until some point during the regular season, at which point everyone loses," Uberstine said. Uberstine said McCardell is resolved to stay away until the Bucs make him a better offer. "If it's gone six months with no progress, there's no reason to think that the next six months are going to be any different or better," Uberstine said. "I'm certainly hopeful and optimistic that something can bridge the difference between now and then, but I have no reason to believe that."
McCardell, due to make $2.5-million this season and $2.75-million in his final year, has asked for a deal close to the average of the top receivers in the league. Those who are not in their rookie contracts average $4.4-million.
Uberstine was particularly concerned about Allen's comments that the dispute was based on money.
"Most things in life and business contain some financial component, and that doesn't make them dishonest, selfish or unreasonable," Uberstine said. "I'm certain if the team had its way it would pay players as little as possible." Uberstine said McCardell is in elite company with 410 catches and 5,052 yards the past five seasons. Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt, Rod Smith and Jimmy Smith are the only other receivers to accomplish that feat.
The Bucs said they have no plans to negotiate a new deal and pointed out that McCardell is under contract for two more years.
"Contracts in the NFL have essentially become one-year deals," said Uberstine, pointing out players are forced to take a pay cut for poor performance or injury. "Teams cannot adhere fairly to such a practice yet not recognize the converse."
Last season, McCardell led the Bucs with 84 receptions, 1,180 yards and eight receiving touchdowns. He has 724 career receptions and five 1,000-yard seasons.
The Bucs appear less than willing to engage in a long-term deal with McCardell, 34. Allen commented Tuesday that he has a good idea of what the market value is for older receivers such as the Raiders' Tim Brown.
"The reference to Tim Brown is interesting," Uberstine said. "Because Bruce and the Raiders signed Tim Brown to a contract where he received $8.5-million over two years to play at 34 and 35 years old, during which time his statistics were virtually identical to Keenan's production last year."