CORTLAND, N.Y. -- New York Jets running back Leon Washington, in a contract dispute while seeking a big raise, was a no-show as players reported Thursday for the start of the team's first training camp under new coach Rex Ryan.
Washington, a Pro Bowl selection last season as a kick returner, is scheduled to earn $535,000 this season, the final year of his rookie deal. He's believed to be looking for about $6 million per year.
The Jets and Washington's agent, Alvin Keels, have been talking this week in an effort to come to a resolution. Keels didn't immediately respond to an e-mail from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Washington sat out the first three weeks of organized team activities before returning for minicamp "in good faith" and said he was only looking for "fair-market value." He was the only Jets player not to report Thursday afternoon, and he could be subject to a team fine since he is under contract.
"Everybody knows Leon's a huge member of this football team and obviously a huge guy, somebody that finished in the top 10 in punt returns and kick returns," Ryan said. "We want Leon here, and we'll see what happens."
Ryan said he has spoken with Washington throughout the offseason.
"He knows how I feel about him, how the team feels about him," Ryan said. "He knows that."
Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum has said one of the major stumbling blocks in doing a new deal with Washington, a fourth-round pick out of Florida State in 2006, is the uncertainty of the NFL's collective bargaining agreement. Without an extension to the CBA, Washington would become a restricted free agent -- not unrestricted -- next offseason, and the Jets would be able to retain his rights for far less than what he's currently seeking.
Washington has rushed for 1,451 yards and 13 touchdowns and caught 108 passes for 838 yards and two scores in his first three seasons. He also has returned four kickoffs for touchdowns.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press