Bobby Engram has a point. And so do the Seattle Seahawks. And that’s what makes this a tricky situation. That said, there are certainly ways to resolve the dispute between the team and its best wide receiver, and Engram will be on the field when the Seahawks open the season in Buffalo on Sept. 7.Engram argues that he deserves to be paid better than he currently is in light of the fact that he had a career year in 2007. As injuries depleted the Seahawks’ receiving corps, Engram bounced back from a thyroid condition that had cost him most of the 2006 Reebok Indianapolis Colts 18 Peyton Manning Realtree camo Jersey
season and he proceeded to set the team record with 94 receptions in 2007. Although he is 35, Engram remains the team’s top receiver. Deion Branch, who missed much of last season with injuries, will be out for at least half of the 2008 campaign. D.J. Hackett, who also was mostly a non-factor in 2007, is no longer with the team. That means Engram and Nate Burleson will be counted on to lead an otherwise very inexperienced receiving corps.Engram knows how important he is to the offense – he long has been quarterback Matt Hasselbeck’s security blanket. He also knows that a once strong position has been weakened through attrition and that his absence would certainly hurt the offense even more. At $1.7 million, Engram is scheduled to make about half of what Branch ($3.5 million) and Burleson ($3.25 million) will net in 2008. This also is the final year of the two-year deal he signed in 2007, and he feels like he can play for another three seasons. Add it all up, and Engram doesn’t plan to report to camp until the Seahawks have given him a raise and contract extension. He has asked for a two-year renewal through 2010. As he told the Seattle P-I last week, “I have clearly outplayed that contract [signed in 2006]. Do they have to extend my contract? No. Should they? Yes.”The Seahawks have valid arguments against it. Obviously Engram was one of their top three offensive players last season (behind Hasselbeck and left tackle Walter Jones), but the fact remains that he just turned 35 in January and still has not played a full season as a starter since joining the Reebok Minnesota Vikings 28 Adrian Peterson Realtree camo Jersey
Seahawks in 2001. He missed three games with broken ribs in 2005 and nine games with the thyroid condition in 2006. President Tim Ruskell is understandably hesitant to invest much money in an aging receiver, even if that player had his best season at age 34. Ruskell reportedly is willing to consider only one year at a time, and he doesn’t want to capitulate to a player who is holding out because it would set a bad precedent. In addition, the Seahawks don’t have much room under the salary cap and couldn’t offer Engram much extra money this year even if they wanted to.As coach Mike Holmgren told reporters last week, “This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. There are business decisions to be made.”Here’s a business decision that could work for both parties: Give Engram the extension he wants using an option bonus that the team could activate next March if he performs well enough in 2008 for the Seahawks to want him back. Make it a $2 million option bonus that would activate two more years (2009 and 2010), with salaries of $2 million each. Basically, the option bonus would serve as a reward if Engram had another outstanding season, and he effectively would have made $3.7 million in 2008 and have an extension at a reasonable price for a guy who will be 36 in January 2009. Of course, if Engram is thinking he should receive $4 million or more per year or in bonus money, he should think again. No team is going to give him that. But it doesn’t seem like he’s trying to break the bank. It just seems like he wants to be paid on par with the teammates he has outperformed. That should be easy enough to fix if he’s willing to wait for the extra money.Of course, until this is settled, the Seahawks won’t see Engram. He’ll sit out the June minicamps and probably even training camp. But, heck, that’s good for everyone. Engram saves his 35-year-old body from a needless preseason pounding while the Seahawks get to see what the younger receivers – Ben Obomanu, Courtney Taylor, Logan Payne and Jordan Kent – can Reebok Minnesota Vikings #4 Brett Favre Realtree camo Jersey
do.Engram knows the offense inside-out, and if Hasselbeck isn’t concerned, no one should be.“I feel like I can throw to Bobby with my eyes closed,” the quarterback told reporters last week. “When Bobby comes back, he’ll be the same Bobby we know and love. We know he works hard when he’s not here. He’ll be a playmaker for us like he was last year.”As long as Engram and the Seahawks agree they both have valid points and must settle on the best option for player and team.