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Colts hope to sign top pick, see RB James

First-round pick Marlin Jackson wants to join his Indianapolis Colts teammates at training camp July 27, and his agent is optimistic he can make it happen.

INDIANAPOLIS (July 25, 2005) -- First-round pick Marlin Jackson wants to join his Indianapolis Colts teammates at training camp July 27, and his agent is optimistic he can make it happen.

Doug Hendrickson said he hoped to complete a deal this week before the Colts reporting deadline at Terre Haute.

"It sounds, from the tone, like they want to get something done, and we want to get something done, so we've just got to come together and get a fair deal," Hendrickson said. "I think something will get done."

Typically, first-round picks receive five-year deals, which is what Hendrickson expects. Potential stumbling blocks include the amount of Jackson's signing bonus and the performance incentives that can increase the value of the contract.

But the biggest obstacle might be out of the Colts' hands.

Only two of the NFL's 32 first-rounders have signed: offensive lineman Logan Mankins with the New England Patriots and defensive tackle Mike Patterson of the Eagles. No. 1 pick quarterback Alex Smith agreed to terms with the San Francisco 49ers.

Many agents use the players drafted around their clients to establish an asking price, while teams use those figures to gauge the market.

Jackson, a defensive back from Michigan, was selected 29th in April.

Hendrickson, though, doesn't believe he can wait. With the Colts reporting earlier than usual because of a trip to Tokyo next week, Hendrickson said he must act.

"I think ultimately guys in Round 1 will get a modest increase," he said. "But I'm not afraid to set the tone or the market."

Late signings are nothing new for the Colts, especially when it comes to top picks. Wide receiver Reggie Wayne and defensive end Dwight Freeney, both first-round picks, agreed to deals less than 24 hours before camp opened.

Quarterback Peyton Manning, running back Edgerrin James and linebacker Rob Morris -- first-rounders from 1998-2000 -- all held out. And the Colts' top pick last year, safety Bob Sanders, missed the first month. Sanders was the league's last draft pick to sign a deal in 2004.

The results have been mixed.

Morris has often blamed his holdout for the slow start to his career, and Sanders struggled with injuries last season. Manning, though, delivered the best season by a rookie quarterback in league history, and James won the NFL rushing title as a rookie.

James' status for camp is also in question. He signed a one-year deal in March but has been seeking a long-term deal.

Coach Tony Dungy said he hasn't spoken recently with James, a three-time Pro Bowler and a key cog in the Colts' proficient offense, but is hopeful James, Jackson and everyone else will report July 27.

"We want them to be signed up and come in with a good frame of mind," he said. "We're confident we'll have everyone wrapped up in the next couple of days."

That will require some quick work. Five of the Colts' 10 draft remain unsigned after three players -- guard Dylan Gandy and safety Matt Giordano, both fourth-round picks, and fifth-rounder Jonathan Welsh, a defensive lineman -- all agreed to deals.

And Hendrickson believes he can help the Colts complete those deals before the Colts start practicing July 28.

"I don't think we're miles apart," Hendrickson said. "Of course, Marlin doesn't want to miss one minute of camp, but business is business, and we want to get a fair deal."

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2005, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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