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pakowitz 05-02-2003 02:11 AM

Robbins’ challenge; Horn, Saints stall on contract asks associate editor Eric Edholm for his thoughts on the hottest topics around the NFL:

Raiders’ Robbins set to rejoin team in June

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Raiders C Barret Robbins will play again for the Raiders if he continues treatment for his bipolar condition. Robbins was sent home by the team during Super Bowl week because of erratic behavior in the days before the game. Robbins has spent more than a month in treatment and said he has curbed his drinking and depression. He has been at the Raiders' practice facility nearly every day in recent weeks and has spoken to some of his teammates. Robbins’ teammates — especially two of his fellow linemen, OG Mo Collins and C Frank Middleton — had blasted Robbins' actions at the time and said they could not envision a scenario where they could accept him as a teammate again. Barring any hang-ups, Robbins should be ready for minicamp in June.

PFW: Can Robbins ever really be a part of this team again?

Edholm: It will be a daily grind — harder than the most hated rookie would face in the harshest training camp — for many of Robbins’ teammates to accept their teammate as such again. And the difference between what Robbins might feel and some playful rookie hazing is night and day; his torture will be mental and not playful at all. A smart man once told me that it takes a lot of good things to get on people’s good side, but it takes just one bad thing to get on their bad side. Robbins’ bad thing — the pre-Super Bowl meltdown — was a very big bad thing, and he has a lot of work to do to get back on the team’s good side.

That said, I think the challenge will be a good one for Robbins, who needs a strong test in his life. He will likely respond positively, as he has done since undergoing treatment. This might be a failed experiment if things go awry, but give the Raiders credit for not sweeping the issue under the rug or outright releasing him. They are aiming to help him deal with his problems before he rejoins his team on the field.

Horn threatens to sit out minicamp if contract is not done

The term “voluntary� notwithstanding, don’t expect Joe Horn to be at the Saints’ minicamp in June unless he and the team can reach a contract extension agreement before Friday. Although attendance for the minicamp is not mandatory, Horn sat out last year’s camp because of the lack of a new deal and is threatening to do the same this season. Horn is supposed to make base salaries of $2.7 million and $2.9 million in the final two seasons of his contract, and Horn's agent, Ralph Vitolo, wants to move some money around for the proposed new deal. Vitolo wants to merge money from the present deal’s base salary and add new money into a bigger signing bonus. As of today, no deal appeared imminent. Horn reportedly wants to earn an average salary in the top five or six among NFL wide receivers, which was a little more than $5 million last season. He's looking for a three-year contract that would pay him a signing bonus of between $6 million and $7 million.

PFW: Is this a big concern for the Saints?

Edholm: Probably not. Although this is as good a time as any to redo your star player’s deal, the Saints will not rush into this. They have most of the bargaining chips on their side and can wait a little while longer to get things done. Although they would love to have their star receiver in camp for team unity — something that was sorely lacking by the end of the season — they are not going to offer a cap-unfriendly deal to that end.

Expect the talks to continue, even past Friday’s “deadline,� until training camp but for nothing to be decided until next year. Horn is a priority for the Saints to keep, but this is the time to be patient. My guess is that they will work something out down the road.

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