NFL's million-dollar babies

Texans wide receiver Jacoby Jones catches a pass while being defended by Titans cornerback Cortland...

Texans wide receiver Jacoby Jones catches a pass while being defended by Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn., Sep. 20, 2009. (ANDY LYONS/Getty Images/AFP)

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:11 PM ET

TORONTO - There are million-dollar bonus babies and, then, there are ordinary million-dollar babies.

The NFL players and owners may have signed a new collective bargaining agreement but the sweetness and light didn’t even last until the opening pre-season game.

This weekend the snit really hit the fan when Titans’ defensive back Cortland Finnegan went AWOL from training camp for a day. Finnegan is scheduled to make $3.793 million US this season. He signed a contract extension in 2008 worth $18.5 million with $8.5 million in guarantees.

But, hey. Don’t the Titans know the stock market is in freefall? And with the high cost of gold bullion these days, 3.7 large is hardly enough to keep a guy in bling.

Titans G.M. Mike Reinfeldt told the Tennessean. “We were totally surprised he turned around and left camp.”

Why this would be a surprise is, well ... a surprise.

Holdouts are a sports tradition; especially for veterans who know they’re not getting paid to sweat in these pretend games. And, if they can pry a few extra million out of management, it’s a bonus? Darrelle Revis got himself a nice paid holiday last year before showing up.

Didn’t hurt anybody except the guy who got cut when Revis drove up to the Jets’ complex in his Brinks truck.

Anyway, in this annual game of brinkmanship, the Eagles’ DeSean Jackson is reported ready to “absolutely, positively” end his hold out and report to camp Monday.

Maybe.

For sure. Unless he changes his mind.

Saturday, Bengals’ tackle Willie Anderson hinted Carson Palmer would return. Sunday, ESPN reported the two sides were back to having “irreconcilable differences.” There are TV soap operas that don’t have plot lines that take this long to evolve. The Titans are already without running back Chris Johnson who signed a five-year, $12 million deal in 2008 with $7 million guaranteed. But the base salary for this year is a paltry $800,000. Peanuts! Right, Matt Forte?

He has hinted he might refuse to play pre-season games with the Bears unless he gets a long-term contract. I mean, the veteran base salary in this league is now just under $1 million. Doesn’t management understand these guys have families to feed, the wives want new BMWs, not to mention the cost of keeping a decent posse these days?

It is to weep.

Funny farm

From the What Goes Around, Comes Around File: Bill Belichick and the Patriots signed defensive lineman Shaun Ellis, formerly of the Jets. Ellis has averaged 4.5 sacks per season since 2005. But, here’s the goofy part: Ellis was drafted by the Jets in 2000 with the 12th overall pick — the draft choice they got when the Patriots signed Belichick away from New York ... Johnny Knox led the Bears in receptions, receiving yards, yards-per-catch, and receiving touchdowns last year. He’s 24. So how come Roy Williams is splitting first team reps at split end. Mike Martz said Williams could catch 70-80 passes this year. So, where does that leave Knox? ... Falcons rookie guard Mike Johnson has a concussion and appears unlikely to win a starting job ... RB Jason Snelling didn’t get the offer he was looking for with the Rams or Giants and has re-signed with Atlanta ... Seattle signed RB Thomas Clayton, released Wednesday by the Pats.

Foxy repartee

Panthers’ receiver Steve Smith found a way to knock former head coach John Fox without actually knocking him. Guess that’s what is refered to as a veteran move. Smith told the Charlotte Observer he’s happier in new offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski’s scheme. “I get to line up in different spots. It’s just refreshing. It’s not saying, ‘Well, we’re going to move you around,’ and then never do it. Here they’re actually saying it and it’s happening.” He said the Panthers’ new offence takes chances and allows him to make plays ... Giants first-round draft Prince Amukamara is out indefinitely after fracturing his left foot. With nickelback Bruce Johnson (torn Achilles’) also out, Aaron Ross is out of the doghouse ... Teams are still inquiring about Bills’ receiver Lee Evans ... Panthers NT Ron Edwards, signed to a three-year, $8.25-million deal last week for his run-stopping ability, tore his triceps and now is likely to miss the season

Brandon Browner, the three-time CFL all-star with Calgary, was signed by Seattle to bring some toughness to their secondary.

In the early going, he has impressed head coach Pete Carroll.

“I had lost track of him — that he was playing in Canada for a few years and he was all-Canada or whatever and made the all-star team, I said let’s bring him in,” said Carroll, who as head coach at USC had watched Browner play high school football. “I always knew that he was very effective at the line of scrimmage.”

With second-year cornerback Walter Thurmond out with an ankle sprain, Browner has been thrown in with the first-team defence and matched up well against larger wide receivers, Mike Williams and Sidney Rice, during workouts.

Seattle ranked 27th against the pass last season and larger receivers proved to be a difficult matchup. “He’s come out here and competed like crazy,” Carroll said. “He’s had some very good days, one after another. He’s a four-year professional veteran if you look at it. He’s played a ton of football games and he just keeps growing and he fits in.”


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