Report: James says his days with Colts are over

Colts running back Edgerrin James told the Indianapolis Star he believes his playing days in Indianapolis are over.

"I don't see nothing happening,'' James told the newspaper Thursday night. "You can read between the lines and from the things I'm hearing, nothing's going to happen.

"And that's crazy, man. I'm part of the solution, I'm not part of the problem. Crazy, man."

James is one of four Colts starters that could become unrestricted free agents this year, along with receiver Reggie Wayne, linebacker David Thornton and defensive lineman
Raheem Brock.

Colts general manager Bill Polian has said the team's offseason signing priorities are retaining Wayne and working out a contract extension for defensive end Dwight Freeney.

If the Colts do lose James, they will have a difficult time replacing him with a player of equal all-around skills, and might have to invest a high-round draft choice in a tailback or perhaps sign a veteran free agent. The former of those two is more likely.

The most accomplished reserve tailback on the roster is Dominic Rhodes, but he is hardly in the same class as James, and his talents aren't nearly as diverse.

A five-year veteran, Rhodes, 27, became the first undrafted free agent in modern NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards as a rookie, posting 1,104 yards in 2001, when he replaced James after the Colts' starter required knee surgery to repair a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament. But in the four seasons since, Rhodes has totaled only 529 yards, and he missed the entire 2002 season with an ACL tear.

Rhodes is under contract for 2006, at a base salary of $550,000, but he is due a $1.5 million roster bonus next month, and there has been some speculation the Colts will not pay it.

James has taken exception to his name rarely, if ever, being mentioned among those priorities and told the paper he'll see who wants his services when the free agent signing period opens March 3.

"Maybe I'll get to a situation where somebody appreciates me," James told the Star. "I'm going to always be a ballplayer. You know I've got game. You can't knock what I do.

"I'm a running back like Walter Payton, somebody who played a long time. I'm in that mold ... guys who played 12, 13 years and always were consistent."

James, in his seventh NFL season, rushed for 1,506 yards and 13 touchdowns on 360 carries this past season and is headed to the Pro Bowl after his fourth 1,500-yard season.

The Colts were 3-13 the season before drafting James with the fourth overall pick in 1999. Indianapolis then posted a 13-3 record in James' rookie season, in which he won the first of two straight rushing titles.

"At the end of the day I can say I did my part," James told the paper. "I did what they asked me to do. At the end of the day the truth will be seen and everybody will see what kind of player I am and how important of a player I am.

"For somebody else to come in and do what I did, it would be tough. Look at the difference when I'm there and when I'm not there. That's all you got to do."

Since 1999, the Colts are 77-35 -- 70-26 when he plays, 7-9 when he doesn't, according to the Star.

The Colts had no comment on James' statements, the Star reported.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN senior NFL writer Len Pasquarelli was used in this report.