Kelly Reports to Bucs Despite Feelings
By FRED GOODALL
AP Sports Writer
CELEBRATION, Fla. (AP) -- Brian Kelly doesn't want to become one of those distractions that can hinder a team's chances of repeating as Super Bowl champions.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback is unhappy with the $1 million he's scheduled to earn after tying for the NFL lead in interceptions last season, yet nevertheless reported to training camp on time Friday.
The sixth-year pro said he never seriously considered holding out.
"I never came out and said I'm not reporting. That wasn't the situation," Kelly said after checking into the Bucs' camp near Disney World without a restructured contract.
"I'm here to try win a championship again. I'm not going to leave. I'm not going to come back asking for it. I'm done with it. I'm just going to go out and perform like I did last year."
Kelly is entering the second season of a six-year, $15.3 million contract he signed in March 2002, when he was coming off a year in which he didn't have an interception, despite starting 11 games.
He's scheduled to earn more than $11 million in the last four seasons of the deal and asked the Bucs to reward him for having a breakthough season with eight interceptions in 2002 by juggling numbers to allow him to receive some of the backloaded money this year.
"I didn't come in saying `I want new money, I had eight picks, pay me.' It wasn't a threat, none of those things," Kelly said. "Some people took it that way. Some people ran with it that way. But that wasn't the situation. What we asked for, it was something that was very generous. But it wasn't ridiculous."
The Bucs rejected the proposal. General manager Rich McKay said he intends to speak to Kelly on Saturday.
"We have a lot of players who had great years, and we had great team success. And contracts, contrary to some people's perception, are not a perfect science," McKay said. "You're going to have great disagreements at times. I have yet to run into a player who felt like he was adequately paid."