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Colts willing to trade RB James

INDIANAPOLIS (March 9, 2005) -- Edgerrin James could be a bargain for some NFL team.

James' new agent Drew Rosenhaus said the Indianapolis Colts were not demanding a first-round draft pick in exchange for the former two-time NFL rushing champion.

James, the Colts' career rushing leader, was designated the team's franchise player last month. Now Rosenhaus, who said he spoke with Colts president Bill Polian, is looking for a trade.

"The bottom line is that I talked to the Colts, and he doesn't think he can get a long-term deal done," Rosenhaus said in a telephone interview.

Polian told The Associated Press that he would not discount trading James, a cornerstone of one of the NFL's top offenses.

James has carried the ball a franchise-record 1,828 times, more than all but four of the NFL's top 10 rushers had in their first six years. But he is just 26 years old and is coming off his best season since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in 2001.

He rushed for 1,548 yards and nine touchdowns, caught 51 passes for 483 yards and earned his third selection to the AFC Pro Bowl team in 2004.

In six NFL seasons, James has rushed 7,720 yards, 51 touchdowns and caught 312 passes for 2,502 yards. Three times he has topped 2,000 yards from scrimmage in a season.

James' departure would break up the Colts' talented trio he formed with Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison. Together, they have led Indianapolis to three division titles and five playoff appearances in six years.

But the non-exclusive franchise tag would cost the Colts slightly more than $8 million. If another team signed James and the Colts did not match the offer within seven days, the Colts would get two first-round draft picks.

James has said he wants a long-term deal, which would likely mean handing out another multimillion dollar signing bonus for the Colts.

Team owner Jim Irsay has already agreed to more than $40 million in bonuses since December by re-signing receivers Harrison, Brandon Stokley and right tackle Ryan Diem to long-term contracts.

Irsay also gave Manning, the league's two-time MVP, a $34.5 million signing bonus last March.

For the Colts, another long-term deal appears to be too much.

"They're trying to make it as easy as possible for me to get a fair trade," Rosenhaus said. "I think a team has a chance to get a steal."

Since James recently hired Rosenhaus, who is based in Miami where James played college football, there has been speculation James wants to return to Florida and play for the Dolphins.

"I'm working overtime to find a trade partner," Rosenhaus said.

The Colts already have a backup plan in case they do trade James.

On the same day they franchised James, Polian also announced that Indianapolis had a new two-year deal with Dominic Rhodes, James' backup the last four years.

Rhodes rushed for 1,104 yards - an NFL record for undrafted rookies - when he replaced James for the final 10 games of 2001. He signed a two-year deal that will pay him $1.3 million in base salary in 2005 and 2006.

National football writer Dave Goldberg contributed to this report.

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