Tony won't toss tantrum

Initially believing his deal with the Eskimos would allow it, Tony Tompkins was hoping to shop his...

Initially believing his deal with the Eskimos would allow it, Tony Tompkins was hoping to shop his talents to the NFL for the 2006 season, but the rookie kick-return sensation will attend Esks training camp. (Edmonton Sun File/Jason Franson)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:05 AM ET

Tony Tompkins doesn't want to beat his head against a brick wall any longer.

And his agent Alex Balic doesn't really want to get into a legal fight with little chance of winning.

So, Tompkins is going to remain with the Edmonton Eskimos.

"Tony will play out the second year of his contract and hopes to break some records in 2006," said Balic.

The decision ends a tumultuous couple of months for Tompkins.

After winning the Grey Cup last fall, the dynamic young return specialist thought he was about to enter the option year of his Eskimo contract, meaning he could jump to the lucrative NFL this winter.

However, a misunderstanding surrounding the contract he signed last year put a major kink in that plan.

Without using an agent, Tompkins thought he signed a one-year contract with an option clause last spring. Instead, he signed a two-year plus an option deal with Edmonton general manger Paul Jones. (Tompkins did have a lawyer witness the deal.)

The misunderstanding prompted Tompkins's new agent (Balic) to politely plead with the Eskimos last month to release his client so he could sign with an NFL team.

BRICK WALL

But - like beating a head against a brick wall - that proved useless as Jones refused to let the CFL's leading punt/kick returner simply run away from the Green and Gold.

Without any viable options left, Tompkins will now officially report to training camp.

"Although it would be a stretch to say that playing in the CFL in 2006 would be in Tony's best interests, he has a legally binding contract with the team," said Balic.

Balic adamantly believes he could negotiate a contract with an NFL team this winter, giving Tompkins a chance to earn six times his $40,000 salary this summer in Edmonton.

He could drag the issue to court, but his recent talks with the NFL head office proved that would be the wrong move.

"We could raise something and say Tony was misled and didn't know what he was signing, but in the end, he would probably have to play (in the CFL)," said Balic.

"If the NFL said they would like to have a guy like Tony here right now and would do what it could to help out, that would be a different issue.

"But the NFL isn't supporting a fight with the CFL right now."

HE'S READY

For his part, Tompkins is ready to make the best of the situation in Edmonton this summer.

"It's no problem with me coming back," said the 23-year-old Texas native.

"I'm excited about it."

As a raw rookie last season, Tompkins led the CFL with three punt return TDs and added two kickoff return majors.

"I know there will be scouts up there (in Canada) to see him this season," continued Balic.

"And Tony can expect to have several (NFL) teams to choose from at the end of 2006."

FINISH LINES: Although some people suggested the Eskimos might open the vault and pay Tompkins more than $40,000 this season, Balic didn't even negotiate with Jones for a raise.

"There is a lot to be said for bad blood and good blood," said Balic.

"I would like him to be on the best possible terms with Paul and the team.

"If he is demanding more money then it is just going to cause resentment on the team.

"There is no need for that."

Even if Balic had asked for a raise, it wouldn't have happened.

"When a guy is under contract, he fulfils his obligation," said Jones.


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