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Graham Remains A No-Show
Posted May 14, 2008 by Roy Cummings
Updated May 14, 2008 at 10:42 AM
TAMPA - When the Buc returned to the practice field for their fifth “voluntary workout of the offseason Wednesday, running back Earnest Graham wasn’t with them. Graham won’t say precisely why he wasn’t there, but you can pretty much guess the reason.
Graham, who is seeking a contract extension much like disgruntled quarterback Jeff Garcia, has obviously been advised by his agent to take a different approach to the matter than Garcia has.
Instead of showing up and participating in workouts the way Garcia is, Graham has been advised to sit out in an effort to reduce the risk of injury, which could really cut into his bargaining power. And unlike Garcia, Graham has also been advised not to talk about the situation.
“I’ve been advised not to comment on the situation,’’ Graham said earlier today. “I talked the last time about it and I probably shouldn’t have. I just can’t comment on it right now.’‘
That “last time’’ that Graham refers to was last month, after Graham failed to show for the first round of “voluntary workouts. Back then, Graham said the contract issue was not the reason for his absence. He said he was simply taking the time to be with his family and that he planned to participate in the next round of workouts, “after the draft.’‘
Graham didn’t make any such promise Wednesday. When asked if he’ll be around One Buc Place for the next round of workouts he said with a sigh, “I don’t know, man; I really don’t know.’‘
You get the feeling Graham would really like to be there but that he realizes he has to do what’s best for him. And if that means sitting out, it looks like he’ll continue to sit out. After all, this is his best chance yet to cash in on his talent.
Coming off a season in which he fell just short of the 1,000-yard rushing mark while producing more than 1,000 total yards, Graham has obviously earned the right to seek a raise of the $605,000 he’s slated to make in 2008. He also wants some security to go with that, so he’s likly looking for a three-, four- or five-year deal that pays him like the workhorse he was in 2007.
The Buc, on the other hand, have to be sure not to overpay Graham, who was little more than a special teams standout before last season. It’s a difficult position for the Buc, and it’s hard to tell at this point of a solution is anywhere near.