Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian said Friday that there’s a very good reason why running back Edgerrin James hasn’t heard much from the team regarding his future with the team.

Until the NFL and the NFL Players Association can reach some sort of an agreement on an extension of the collective bargaining agreement, the Colts are one of several league teams that must decide what to do about a possible lifting of salary-cap restrictions prior to the 2007 season.

James has become more vocal in recent days about his current contract situation, telling both the NFL Network and the Indianapolis Star on Thursday that he hasn’t heard anything from the team and that he doesn’t expect to be back with the Colts in 2006. He was Indianapolis’ designated franchise player last off-season.

“Well, [James] hasn’t gotten any indication [from the Colts] because we don’t have any at this point,” Polian said during an interview on the Tony Bruno Show on Sporting News Radio. “We’ve just completed our organizational meetings where I sit down with the coaching staff and the other members of the senior personnel staff and we evaluate the players. And we just finished that [Thursday]. Now, we’ve got to get to the drawing board, so to speak, and decide what we’re going to do in terms of applying the franchise tag, if such is the case, how much money we’re going to have to spend.

“And all of that is really in suspended animation because of the lack of a collective bargaining agreement. If there is no collective bargaining agreement, then there is a very different and difficult situation that develops for every team. It’s much, much more difficult to sign players under the transition rules that go from a cap to an uncapped year, which is essentially what applies beginning March 3. So, we’ve got that to worry about. In addition, if there is an agreement, we presume there will be a little more money in the cap than normally would be the case. I don’t know if that’s a correct presumption or not. The short answer is we’re trying to work two different scenarios and we haven’t even gotten close to an answer yet, and that’s why no one has heard from us. I told the players at the appropriate time when we had a direction I would let them know. Thus far, we’re not there yet.”

There has been speculation that Indianapolis officials are unwilling to give the two-time NFL rushing champion a long-term deal due to a combination of factors — his age [27], the number of times he has carried the football during his seven-year career [9,226 yards] and the fact that he underwent knee surgery four years ago.

But, according to Polian, that isn’t necessarily the case.

“It’s all tied up with the question of money and how much long-term money you’d be committing. And I’m not talking now about Edgerrin, I’m answering the question generically. But I think it’s all about how much money you have to commit over the long term,” he said.

”Sometimes [getting] a vibe is an issue for the player; it never is for me because I don’t deal in vibes. I’m not [musician] Lionel Hampton. The agents make it an issue because they use it as a point of leverage. And obviously Edgerrin’s agent is trying to stir up a hornet’s nest in our paper, and I understand that. That’s business as usual. But that has no effect on us.”

“We have to set up the priorities and determine how much we can afford to spend and how much the cap is going to impinge. If there’s no collective bargaining agreement, there’s a short cap and very difficult rules in terms of giving players signing bonuses. And it’s going to be awful tough for anybody to make a go of it,” Polian continued.

“And under these transition rules, the teams with wads of cash — like Washington, for example — will have a decided advantage, because if you give a huge signing bonus, that’s kind of exempted from the rules in this particular case. It’s a muddled situation at best, and we’re trying to work through it just like every other team in the league is. But I don’t have any answers just yet.”

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