HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (Aug. 29, 2005) -- Jets defensive end John Abraham finally reported to the team, signing his one-year franchise tender after missing all of training camp.
The Pro Bowl player refused to sign the tender because he wanted a long-term deal, and was forced to miss offseason training activities and camp. Abraham does not have the deal he wanted, nor does he have assurances he won't be franchised again at the end of the season.
"The business part is over with," Abraham said. "It's time to get to the personal part, which is getting back with my teammates and getting ready for the season. For me, it's more getting ready to play for the first game, not trying to hurt the team."
Abraham will have a physical and begin practicing with the team immediately. He won't play in the exhibition finale at Philadelphia, but is expected to see spot duty in the season opener at Kansas City on Sept. 11.
Because he has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career, the Jets have been hesitant to make a long-term commitment to Abraham. He missed the final four regular-season games and two playoff games last season after spraining his right knee. He says his knee feels fine, and has no hard feelings with organization.
"I'm in shape, I've been working since the season was over with," Abraham said. "Obviously I had an injury last year, I had to rehab my knee and work on my body. It's been a long offseason, but it's been a very positive offseason. Hopefully I can stay healthy for 16 games. That's my only problem in the NFL so far. When I'm on the field, I've been a force."
In five seasons, Abraham has made the Pro Bowl three times. He has 43 sacks, 12 forced fumbles and 261 tackles, despite all the injuries. In 2000, he was limited to six games because of a sports hernia. In 2003, he missed time with a groin injury.
The only season in which he played all 16 games was 2002, when he had 10 sacks and got his second Pro Bowl nod. Abraham said he put on 10 pounds in the offseason, hoping that will help him stay healthy.
He also has issues with the way he has been portrayed since saying last season he had no problem with being franchised. Abraham said he was "ignorant" on how the tag worked.
"You're thinking you're getting that kind of money for one year ... but you don't know the terms that go along with the franchise tag," Abraham said. "Nobody's mad at the finances. You just want stability, to know you're going to be in a place for three, four years."
Abraham also was portrayed as a player who did not want to play through injuries because of his impending contract situation. Coach Herman Edwards said Abraham would be able to play against San Diego in the first week of the playoffs, but Abraham decided against it a few days later, saying he had to "weigh his options."
Abraham has taken issue with his portrayal, even going back to 2003, when he was arrested for drunken driving.
"I have no more challenges with the media. I've been through everything I possibly could," he said. "I've been called an alcoholic, I've been called a drunk, I've been called a coward for not playing because I was hurt. I've been called a guy who gets injured all the time. Anything possible pretty much that could be said bad about me has been said."
General manager Terry Bradway reiterated the team wants to work out a deal with Abraham.
"I can't give you a timetable," Bradway said. "I'm not going to answer questions during the season. We've had great communication in the past, and we'll continue to have it in the future. Our intention all along has been to have John here for a long time. We'll continue to work toward that end."