BOLTON -- The Patriots' lone mandatory offseason minicamp starts today, and disgruntled cornerback Asante Samuel won't be present.
Reached yesterday after he didn't show up to the Patriots Charitable Foundation golf tournament at The International, Samuel reiterated his stance that he is unhappy with the progress of contract negotiations.
"I'm not coming to camp," he said. "I'm not showing up until the 10th week [of the season]. I feel unappreciated. The way they're treating me is just wrong."
Samuel was assigned the franchise tag in February, and since he has not signed the tender, which would guarantee him a one-year, $7.79 million salary, he is technically not under contract and cannot be fined for missing minicamp.
The most recent discussions re garding an extension for Samuel came toward the middle of last month. The fact that talks have been dormant for weeks is an indication of a sizable gap between the parties.
If the sides are to reach an extension, they must do so before July 14. According to the league's collective bargaining agreement, if a franchise player does not sign an extension by 4 p.m. July 15, he can sign only a one-year deal and cannot be extended until after the regular season.
The 26-year-old Samuel, who entered the league as a fourth-round draft choice in 2003 and has made about $2 million over his first four seasons, has a few options if a contract extension is not reached.
He could sit out the entire season, hoping that the Patriots don't place the franchise tag on him in 2008. But the drawback to that scenario is that he goes a full year without a paycheck, and without keeping his on-field skills sharp.
Another option is showing up in the 10th week of the season by signing the franchise tender and earning a six-week prorated portion of the contract. Samuel would also earn an accredited season, qualifying him for another year toward his pension and other benefits.
Or he could sign immediately and play for the $7.79 million tender, with the idea of having another top season and cashing in via free agency next year (assuming the Patriots don't place the franchise tag on him again).
At this time, he's stated his intention to show up in the 10th week. That assertion could be aimed at sparking more talks, or perhaps creating a future compromise in which he agrees to show up for training camp if the Patriots agree not to place the franchise tag on him in 2008.
Yesterday, his teammates were preparing for the likelihood that Samuel wouldn't be at minicamp.
"If he doesn't come, we have to move on," said nose tackle Vince Wilfork. "I would love to have him here, but on the same token, we have to move on."
Linebacker Tedy Bruschi was asked if he pays attention to Samuel's situation or if he's able to block it out.
"You pay attention to it, because he's a teammate of yours, and a teammate of yours that helped you win football games and you want him back, to help you to continue to win football games," he said. "That's all you can really think about. There is nothing you can really say or do to remedy the situation at all. It's between him and the organization."
Added safety Rodney Harrison, "Asante has enough experience to realize that this is a business and it's not personal. Coach [Bill] Belichick and Mr. [Robert] Kraft, they're going to do what is in the best interests of this team.
"At the same time, we do miss Asante. He's a good guy, a great player, and we miss having him back. Hopefully, in the near future, they can work things out and he'll be here."
Mike Reiss can be reached at email@example.com.