Doors open, QB McNair awaits move

Titan's return to training facility, trade to Ravens remains up in air

June 02, 2006|By JAMISON HENSLEY | JAMISON HENSLEY,SUN REPORTER

MADISON, Tenn. --Steve McNair had his first public workout this offseason in the Nashville area yesterday, jogging around the field and throwing passes.

It seemed just like old times, except the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback was breaking a sweat at his annual youth football camp instead of the Tennessee Titans' headquarters.

A day after an arbitrator's ruling allowed him back into the Titans' training facility, McNair said he was unsure when he would return there.

"I can't answer that," McNair said. "I don't personally get into negotiations and don't get into the process of when I'm going to go in and when I'm not. I'm laid back and waiting on Bus [Cook, my agent] to call me and tell me what's my next step."

Wearing a plain navy visor, sunglasses and a white T-shirt, McNair seemed easygoing during his 10-minute news conference but set parameters on the questioning from the start.

"Due to the circumstances of what's going on with the Titans and myself, I'm not able to speak upon the arbitration ruling," he said. "In due time, I will."

Although he refused to discuss his grievance with the Titans and his possible future with the Ravens, McNair went on to joke with reporters at a time when there is so much drama.

If the Ravens truly want him to learn their offensive system, they would work a trade for McNair over the next four days because their last two full-team minicamps begin Tuesday.

If the Ravens can't acquire McNair by June 15 (the last day of their spring camps), there is no motivation for the Ravens to make a trade. At that point, they can wait until July, when Tennessee must release McNair to sign its draft picks.

There were no talks yesterday between the Ravens and Titans as negotiations remain stalled. The Ravens could be waiting to see how the Titans react when - or if - McNair shows up at Tennessee's training complex.

The Titans banned McNair from their facility on April 3 because they were concerned about being liable for his $23.46 million salary cap number if he got hurt on their property.

With the arbitrator's decision reopening the doors for McNair, Tennessee is facing the same risk. If McNair gets hurt at the complex, the Titans would have to assume his entire cap hit and would have to release other veterans to sign their rookies.

Cook speculated that McNair could report Monday to the Titans' headquarters for voluntary workouts.

"What if he gets hurt and they're in salary cap trouble?," Cook told USA Today on Wednesday. "I don't expect that he'll get hurt, but you never know. Sometimes, things happen. Freak accidents happen."

Despite not being allowed to train with the Titans, McNair boasted that he was in his best physical shape in years. With no lingering injuries from last season, he was able to start his offseason regimen in February.

McNair answered a question about his fitness with a chuckle.

"Do I look in shape?" McNair said. "You would tell me if I wasn't in shape."

McNair said he remains in good shape mentally as well despite the uncertainty of his current situation.

"My mindset is very intense," said McNair, 33, who is entering his 12th season. "It is stronger than ever because of the age difference [with younger players in the NFL] and the injuries I have had in the past. You've got to make sure that you get better and better each year. That's what is keeping me motivated."

After speaking with reporters, McNair hung out with the campers in the cafeteria along with longtime friend Vince Young, the quarterback who was drafted to replace him with the Titans.

"Anytime you go through some drama, it's good to do something that you love doing and get your mind off of it," McNair said. "Today is a great day for me to relax."

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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