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McNair, Titans in stalemate after ruling

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (June 5, 2006) -- Steve McNair won the right to work out on Tennessee's property. When, or if, that will happen is still unknown.

The Titans are in the second week of a two-week sabbatical for their coaches, so few people are around the team's headquarters. But McNair's agent said that the team sent a letter, saying the quarterback will have to pass a physical before he can come back.

Tennessee general manager Floyd Reese says McNair is welcome to return, and he wants to arrange a meeting with the quarterback's agent. Bus Cook says he's busy this week, but the Titans can call.

For now, it's a stalemate.

Reese said the ideal situation would be to at least make some progress on a deal with McNair or establish that they can't. He knows time is beginning to run out with training camp due to start July 28.

"You would certainly like to get some sort of indication this week as to the main focus of what you're going to do. I don't know that we'll end up with that. ... It's time to see if we can't find something solid out one way or another," Reese said.

McNair already has a contract due to pay him $9 million in 2006, the final year on his contract. But the 33-year-old quarterback is due to count $23.46 million against the team's salary cap, which is why the Titans told McNair on April 3 he couldn't work out on their property without a cheaper deal.

Cook said the market for McNair essentially has been set by an offer from the Baltimore Ravens that he negotiated during the NFL draft with permission from Tennessee.

That included an approximately $11 million signing bonus and a $1 million salary for 2006 in a five-year deal that Cook called a pretty good offer. But the trade fell through when the Titans called Baltimore's offer "insignificant."

The Titans' last offer was a $3 million signing bonus and a $2.5 million salary for 2006, creating $6.5 million of salary cap space.

"I think that we don't necessarily have to match or duplicate what it is that they've done and can still maybe accomplish the goal that we want," Reese said. "Until we sit down and start looking each other in the eye, throwing around numbers and contract things we can and can't do, we don't know that."

Reese said he hadn't talked with the Ravens in at least a week and doubted he would hear from them within the next couple of days. Baltimore's final minicamp starts June 6 and concludes June 15. The Titans' next on-field practice as a team is June 13.

McNair is welcome to return to the team's headquarters and work out on his own, Reese said.

Numbers and welcome aside, the bigger problem may be whether McNair even wants to return to the Titans again. McNair has declined to discuss his feelings about being turned away, promising to talk in the future.

"Would you want to return to work if your boss told you weren't welcome? I don't know," Cook said. "I wouldn't if my boss told me I wasn't welcome. I don't think I'd want to return to work. On the other hand, he's under contract, and he's obligated to what he has to do by virtue of the contract."

McNair would be the Titans' best option this season at quarterback even though they drafted Vince Young of Texas with the No. 3 pick overall.

"In this business, it's difficult to survive a long time without being thick-skinned," Reese said. "And most people that have been in this business any length of time realize you can't always believe or you can't always base everything on what you read in the paper or you hear through rumor or receive through innuendoes or whatever."

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