Originally created 09/01/01

Rolle leaving negotiations to agent, Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- All-Pro cornerback Samari Rolle returned to the Tennessee Titans on Friday, confident he let team officials know just how much wants a long-term contract.

"I just wanted to make a statement," Rolle said after a 50-minute workout Friday afternoon, his first practice since leaving the Titans on Monday night.

"That's the reason I left. I wanted to be here. It was a difficult decision, but it was something I had to do to show everyone I wanted to be here. I don't regret doing it, but I want to finish my career here like Steve (McNair) and Eddie (George)."

Rolle arrived in time for a team meeting Friday afternoon, and the Titans welcomed him back with open arms. Coach Jeff Fisher called Rolle's return the most positive step in a week where the Titans had fined their cornerback $5,000 a day and threatened to suspend him if he wasn't back within five days.

"He really wants to be here. That's what's important. His departure was peculiar because as we've talked about, it's not something that you see and you figure there was a reason for it," said Fisher, who met privately with Rolle.

"We have accepted that, and we're going to do everything we can ... and try to facilitate that."

Rolle spent his time away from the Titans talking with agents Lamont Smith and Peter Schaffer and with his mother in Miami about his options. He decided becoming a free agent didn't appeal to him after a visit to the St. Louis Rams during the offseason.

He settled on trying to work out a new contract with the Titans, while preparing himself to test the free agent market if it doesn't happen by Sept. 9 when the Titans open against the Miami Dolphins.

"Samari has instructed us to enter into discussions with them," Schaffer said. "If it works out, it works out. If it doesn't work out by the first game, then he has instructed us to cease discussions."

That has been the Titans' intention all along. Signing Rolle to a new deal has been one of their priorities since last season when the cornerback earned his first All-Pro honors and tied for the AFC lead in interceptions.

Rolle didn't want to talk about deadlines Friday.

"I'm just here to play now. Lamont and Floyd can handle all that. After today, I'm done with the whole situation. I just want to talk about Miami. I don't know if that's fair to you all or not, but I need to move on," Rolle told reporters.

Titans general manager Floyd Reese has said he thinks a contract could be reached within a few hours once both sides sit down together.

"You didn't see Floyd out here today so I know he's busy," Fisher said.

Smith has worked out a couple of big deals with the Titans, including All-Pro running back Eddie George's six-year extension for $41.25 million with an option for a seventh season last summer and receiver Derrick Mason's five-year contract for $19 million last March.

The framework under consideration for Rolle is $36 million over six years. Some of the haggling has been over how much of the contract will be guaranteed. Rolle currently has a one-year tender for $1.488 million he signed last month when he reported to camp.

Rolle will slip right back into his slot as the Titans' starter at right corner, Fisher said.

His teammates didn't waste any time Friday kidding with Rolle about his "vacation." But safety Blaine Bishop, the last player to hold out over a contract when he missed training camp in 1997, said he advised Rolle to be patient."

"Everything will get worked out, and it's your actions on the field that speaks volumes," he said.


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