May 9, 2005

Saints Still Negotiating With Deuce

The Saints have been negotiating with RB Deuce McAllister on a long-term deal since the 2005 season ended. Recently, the two sides have exchanged news proposals, with little headway being made.

As NOPF reported on February 1, the Saints have offered McAllister and his agent Ben Dogra money similar in structure and short-term value to the contract extension Kansas City RB Priest Holmes received in the 2004 offseason. It is not known how much the Saints' latest offer has departed from the Holmes deal, but there are several long-term runningback deals available as a template for negotiations, including San Diego RB LaDainian Tomlinson and Washington RB Clinton Portis.

McAllister is expected to receive $550,000 in base salary this season, hardly commensurate with his status as the best performer - if not overall player - on the team. He entering the fifth year of his rookie contract, signed after being drafted with the 23rd overall pick in 2001.

McAllister's representation, St. Louis based SFX, will get to know the Saints GM Mickey Loomis and executive Russ Ball very well this offseason. The team's chief negotiators also need to work out a contract with first round pick Oklahoma T Jammal Brown, who is also represented by agents Jim Steiner and Ben Dogra of SFX. Dogra also represents MLB Courtney Watson. He'll also be busy with top 10 draft picks Antrelle Rolle and Adam Jones.

The Saints are not in negotiations with Pro Bowl C LeCharles Bentley, who has been absent from the Saints' workout regime all offseason. GM Mickey Loomis has put down an edict that he will not negotiate with players who are not reporting to Saints headquarters for voluntary workouts. CB Mike McKenzie has been in and out of Saints headquarters, but has been more absent than present and the Saints are not talking to him either.

It is not known if either of those two players, the only holding out for contract reasons, will skip the mandatory minicamp on June 10.

Negotiations with the Saints' seven draft picks are not expected to heat up until late July. The Saints, like many teams, wait for other teams to set the market price and sign finalized contracts often on the eve of training camp. This strategy is used by many teams because it allows them to use other deals to bring agents' proposals into line with the "slotting" of the draft, and also the team's rookie cap limit.

The Saints' rookie cap for 2005, the limit to the initial cap number by all rookies signed to contracts, is $3,606,940.

The current administration has yet to bring their top pick in to camp on time. Darren Howard, Deuce McAllister, Donte Stallworth, Johnathan Sullivan, and Will Smith all were not present for the first practices of their rookie training camps. Jammal Brown is likely to be the sixth straight given the team's long-standing strategy and history of failing to avoid holdouts. That could be dangerous for the Saints who are relying on Brown to win the right tackle job and justify his 13th overall selection.

As always keep here at NOPF for the latest.

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