Lelie in a fine pickle


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Jan 22, 2006
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Lelie in a fine pickle
Receiver now facing $14,000 penalty for each missed day
By Jeff Legwold, Rocky Mountain News
July 25, 2006

ENGLEWOOD - If receiver Ashley Lelie wants to stay away from Broncos training camp - players report Thursday for their first mandatory meeting - he will have to commit far more of his wallet to do it.
That's because the price of his passion over his role in the offense just went up.

Lelie's agent, Denver-based Peter Schaffer, said neither he nor Lelie "have made any decision" as to whether Lelie will arrive in Denver later this week, but the cost for Lelie to stay away has more than doubled in recent days.

As part of the continued process of finalizing the league's new collective bargaining agreement, officials from the league and the NFL Players' Association quietly agreed to a new schedule of fines this past week.

In exchange, according to several personnel executives, for lower fines for things such as being overweight or missing curfew, the NFLPA agreed to stiffer penalties for players under contract who are unexcused for missed days during training camp.

Previously, the maximum daily fine for missing a mandatory training camp day was $6,000.

That now is $14,000 a day, though several general managers said Monday they had not officially been notified of the change but were proceeding under the new guidelines.

That said, it means if Lelie stays away for the days the Broncos practice or play before their Aug. 19 preseason game against Tennessee at Invesco Field at Mile High, it would cost him $294,000.

That total balloons to more than $600,000 if he stays away for the entire preseason. The Broncos are expected to immediately send Lelie a letter notifying him he is being fined if he does not report Thursday.

They also are expected to try to recover some of Lelie's original signing bonus if he stays away into the regular season.

Facing the new rules, Schaffer said Lelie still was undecided about whether he would report on time. The first mandatory gathering is a team meeting Thursday night.

Lelie, who at the prospect of a $6,000 daily fine had promised to stay away, has forfeited a $100,000 workout bonus for missing the offseason conditioning program.

Schaffer still is actively pursuing trade partners for the Broncos in an attempt to find Lelie a new team, saying he was trying to work toward a "more positive solution."

Schaffer, according to several general managers, has contacted teams about almost every trade scenario, including several multiteam deals, but nobody has met the Broncos' asking price of a high draft pick - probably a first- or second-rounder - or a proven starter.

The Broncos informally have inquired about some tight ends in recent weeks.

One scenario off the rumor mill had Titans running back Chris Brown, who played with the University of Colorado, on the Broncos' radar.

Brown has asked Tennessee for a trade, but team officials said Monday they don't expect to move the running back, and if they did, it would not be for a receiver.

Also Monday, Broncos officials continued to try to sign their seven-player draft class.

To that end, they waived five players to clear the way for those signings.

The Broncos waived safety Brandon Browner, linebacker Josh Buhl, punter Tyler Fredrickson, defensive end George Gause and former Adams State punter Jeff Williams.

Browner spent the 2005 season on injured reserve after breaking an arm, while Buhl and Gause were on the Broncos practice squad last season.

Also, the Broncos formally used roster exemptions for sending players to NFL Europe on linebacker Kevin Harrison and defensive tackle Bryan Save to clear the seven spots for the draft picks.

The Broncos roster, including the draft picks, now has 88 players.

Fourth-round pick Elvis Dumervil, who might play more than any other rookie this season, was closing in on a deal Monday night, as were some of the late-round picks.

Coach Mike Shanahan repeatedly has said he didn't expect any difficulty in getting all of the picks signed in a timely fashion, but the Broncos might have trouble signing first-round pick Jay Cutler until the Cardinals sign former Southern California quarterback Matt Leinart.

Arizona selected Leinart at No. 10 in April, the pick before the Broncos selected Cutler.

The Broncos are known to have asked their middle- and late-round picks for at least four-year deals, and the majority of those contracts leaguewide usually are for three years.

That has slowed things some, but agents and the team were progressing toward agreements on some potential incentive clauses for that fourth year.

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