Originally created 07/22/98

NFL notes: Manning's agent gets down to business


While Peyton Manning sat waiting in Knoxville, his agent and his prospective boss sat down Tuesday to discuss the millions in Manning's future.

Tom Condon, the former Kansas City guard who represents the NFL draft's top pick, flew to Indianapolis to talk with Indianapolis president Bill Polian in an attempt to work out a deal before the team opens camp on Thursday.

"We have a framework, but no dollar amounts have been discussed," said Polian, who added that Oakland's $14.5 million, six-year deal with Charles Woodson, the fourth overall pick, might provide a framework.

Manning's contract, however, is likely to be for considerably more. Not only was he the top overall pick in April's draft, but he's a potential franchise quarterback, meaning his price will be higher.

Manning's deal also will affect the contract signed by Ryan Leaf, the other franchise quarterback in the draft. He was taken second overall by San Diego and remains unsigned while his agent, Leigh Steinberg, waits to see what happens with Manning.

The Colts did sign one of Manning's teammates Tuesday, agreeing to a two-year deal with defensive back Cory Gaines, their final pick in the draft.


Reggie White's off-field adventures continue to overshadow workouts.

White appeared in another anti-gay ad Tuesday, again in his Packers uniform, a violation of NFL policy. The league says it probably was an honest mistake because White and the ad's sponsors hadn't yet been warned to quit using the unauthorized photo of the star player.

The ad appeared in The Washington Times and first ran in USA Today last week.

White angrily declined to discuss the issue after the morning's practice.

"No, no, no," he said as he walked to his truck.

Stopping abruptly and pointing back toward the practice field, the defensive end who doubles as a Baptist minister added: "Look, I'm playing football. This is what it's about. You all know what I mean. You all know how I feel. We don't got to keep talking about that."


Ryan McNeil, the holdout cornerback, is now St. Louis' top priority in contract talks.

"I get the sense and the feel that it's being looked at more seriously now by the Rams than maybe they have in the past," McNeil's agent, Brian Ransom, said Tuesday. "We're not close to having anything done yet, but hopefully it'll happen in the next couple days."

McNeil led the NFL with nine interceptions last year when he made $1.2 million. In the offseason the Rams made him their franchise player, which ensures him of a $3.2 million salary -- the average of the five top-paid players at his position last year. The Rams also have offered $13 million over four years.

Ransom is seeking $30 million over five years for McNeil.


Ernie Mills, formerly with Pittsburgh and Carolina, is making a strong bid to become the starting wide receiver opposite Michael Irvin.

"He's been the leader of our receiving corps," Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman said. "He has been very consistent. In fact, I'm learning a lot about our new offense from him. "

The Cowboys continued to work on a shotgun offense, which Aikman has rarely used. He looked uncomfortable and threw an interception.


If Jon Gruden is nervous about his first head coaching job, his voice doesn't betray his jitters.

Gruden, the former offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, was hired by Oakland in the offseason after the team went 4-12 last year.

Gruden, 34, replaced Joe Bugel, who lasted a year. Bugel had taken over from Mike White, who had the job two seasons.

Gruden admits he has a tough job when camp opens. Rookies and selected veterans report Tuesday night and practice on Wednesday. "We have to make our practices hard," he said of the planned two-a-day routine. "They have to be of game-like speed."


Mike Alstott began running for the first time since injuring his left hip during offseason drills on June 8. He was on crutches for about a month and could miss as many as three of the Buccaneers' five exhibition games.

"I've got to be smart about it. I've got to realize that if I do come back too soon, and I don't come back when by body feels right, I could hurt myself again and be out for the season," Alstott said. "I'd rather take time now to get my body and hip in condition and be ready for the long haul."

Alstott rushed for 665 yards and scored a team-high 10 touchdowns last season.

His agent, Jim Steiner, is also talking about a contract extension for Alstott, who will be paid about $650,000 this year and could become a restricted free agent at the end of the season. He says he's not worried about the injury affecting the talks. [bf]Patriots[nf]

Coach Pete Carroll said New England looked rusty in its first practice session in full pads.

"It was clear that we needed a lot of work," Carroll said. "I thought that the offensive side of the ball came off much better than we did on the defensive side. We need all the work we can get, that was really clear."

Fullback Tony Carter, obtained as a free agent from Chicago, impressed Carroll with his blocking in the Tuesday morning practice. Carter will replace Sam Gash, who signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Bills.


Jim Harbaugh's first pass with the Baltimore Ravens was perfect, a touchdown pass to tight end Scott Richards.

"It's a good way to start. Hopefully there'll be lots of those," he said. "You hate to start on an interception or an incompletion. Might as well start on a completion that eats up 40 yards."

It was the first day as starting quarterback for Harbaugh, obtained in an offseason trade.

The only significant absentee on the first day of camp Tuesday was cornerback Duane Starks, the Ravens' top pick in the 1998 draft and the 10th player taken overall. Starks is holding out for a long-term contract, but negotiations continue and team officials expect him in camp by the end of the week.


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