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Boldin: Contract dispute with Cardinals won't be a burden this time

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- A toned-down Anquan Boldin says he will let his new agent deal with his long-simmering contract dispute with the Arizona Cardinals.

After the defending NFC champions went through a conditioning test in training camp Thursday, the three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver said he will keep his feelings about the contract to himself.

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Asked Thursday if he believes the team is being straight with him, Boldin brushed the question aside.

"That's irrelevant," he said. "How I feel isn't going to change a thing."

That's a stark contrast to almost exactly a year ago, when Boldin lashed out at the team's management, accusing the Cardinals of lying to him, seeking a trade and vowing never to re-sign with Arizona.

During the offseason, Boldin switched agents from Drew Rosenhaus to Tom Condon.

Condon represents Cardinals backup quarterback Matt Leinart and has a strong relationship with the team, which has insisted it wants to re-sign Boldin to a long-term deal but had other financial matters ahead of him.

"Business, that's all," Boldin said of the agent switch. "I still have a great relationship with Drew. My younger brother, a couple of guys I mentor, they're still with Drew, so there's still a great relationship between me and him. I still think he's one of the hardest-working dudes in the business, but that was just a business decision."

Boldin said the contract issues and the related controversy and speculation were a burden on him throughout last season, and he doesn't want that to happen again.

"It's out of my hands," he said. "I mean, whatever happens. I said I'm here at the beginning of camp ready to play football."

Boldin said his goal is to "enjoy life."

Boldin, who's entering his seventh NFL season, sat out this year's minicamp with what he said was a sore hamstring, then didn't participate in Arizona's voluntary summer workouts. He said he had, however, worked out three times a day on his own while spending time on community projects in his hometown of Pahokee, Fla. He also traveled to Europe and the Caribbean.

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt was grateful not to have to deal with another Boldin tirade.

"It was a little bit of a crazy situation last year at the start of camp," Whisenhunt said. "This year, when we're coming off a season that we did last year, you know there's going to be enough distractions anyway that you want to be able to minimize that. So it's nice that we don't have a situation like that this year."

Boldin, long considered one of the Cardinals' leaders, ranks third on the franchise list with 502 career receptions, 33 behind record holder Larry Centers. Last season, despite missing two games with a fractured face sustained on a horrific hit against the New York Jets, Boldin had a career-high 11 touchdown catches.

In the playoffs, Boldin injured a hamstring on a 71-yard touchdown catch in the first round against Atlanta and missed the second-round victory at Carolina. He is well remembered for his sidelines shouting match with then-offensive coordinator Todd Haley during the Cardinals' game-winning drive against the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game.

Boldin signed a four-year, $22.25 million contract after the 2005 season, and he is scheduled to earn $2.75 million this season and $3 million in 2010. By contrast, Larry Fitzgerald, his teammate in perhaps the best receiving tandem in football, signed a four-year, $40 million deal, with $30 million guaranteed, after the 2007 season.

"I've said all along that we're a much better team with Anquan on it," Whisenhunt said. "It's my hope and it's been our intention all along to get something worked out long-term. I wish I could say that it would happen right now or yesterday, but that is something the organization is working hard to do, and I believe at the first opportunity, we're going to do that."

The Cardinals might follow their usual pattern of waiting until a player has one year left on his deal before seriously negotiating a new one, as they did this year with safety Adrian Wilson. Boldin said he's leaving all business dealings with the Cardinals to Condon.

"I'll stay out of the everyday 'They said this' and whatever," he said. "All I ask for is let me know when something develops. If not, oh well."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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