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"I'm not coming to camp," he told the newspaper. "I'm not showing up until the 10th week [of the season]. I feel unappreciated. The way they're treating me is just wrong."
The prospect of a star player avoiding camp over money is not new for the Patriots. Last offseason, wide receiver Deion Branch sat out camp over his unhappiness with contract talks and was eventually traded to the Seattle Seahawks.
If he shows up for Week 10, Samuel will receive a pro-rated portion of that $7.79 million salary. If he sits out the entire year, he'll get nothing -- and the Patriots will be able to put the franchise tag on him again for 2008.
"He's not coming to camp until a contract resolution can be reached," his agent, Alonzo Shavers, told the Boston Herald on Monday. "Nothing more can be said. His status has not changed. There has been no movement toward a deal."
Samuel is looking for a richer contract after a breakout 2006 season, in which he had 10 interceptions and 65 tackles and became considered one of the NFL's elite cornerbacks.His teammates said Monday they are ready to move ahead, with or without Samuel. "If he doesn't come [to minicamp], we have to move on," nose tackle Vince Wilfork told the Globe. "I would love to have him here, but on the same token, we have to move on."
"Asante has enough experience to realize that this is a business and it's not personal," added safety Rodney Harrison. "Coach [Bill] Belichick and Mr. [Robert] Kraft, they're going to do what is in the best interests of this team. .. At the same time, we do miss Asante. He's a good guy, a great player, and we miss having him back. Hopefully, in the near future, they can work things out and he'll be here."