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Mr. Laz
09-17-2006, 10:20 AM
Updated: Sep. 16, 2006, 10:46 PM ET
Out-of-work WR Rogers hoping for second chance

By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com

Out of work, but hopefully not out of prospective employers, Charles Rogers is deep into a regimen that he is guardedly confident will earn him an opportunity to resurrect his suddenly on-hold NFL career.

A 90-minute workout in the morning. Then running routes and shagging passes. A round of weightlifting. A shower, some lunch, and then back home to resume his maddening vigil by the telephone.

"I'm taking care of the things I can control," the former Detroit Lions first-rounder, released two weeks ago in the cutdown to the regular-season roster, told ESPN.com on Friday afternoon. "I want people to know that I'm working hard and I'm ready to play football. I want to play football. It's what I've done most of my life and I've still got a lot of miles on me. If anything, what's happened has really [reinforced] how much the game means to me. These two weeks away, well, let's just say I'm hungry to get back."

Hungry but, of course, not starving. At least not literally.

As the second overall selection in the 2003 draft, Rogers signed a six-year contract with a maximum value of $54.6 million. In his three seasons with the Lions, the former Michigan State star banked $16.2 million in bonuses and base salaries. So no one need plan any telethons for Rogers, who requires another chance to get back into the league a lot more than he needs charity.

His career, to this point, has been one of the most star-crossed, and certainly most disappointing, in recent league history. Hailed as one of the top receiver prospects of the past decade, Rogers suffered collarbone fractures in each of his first two seasons. His third year was marred by a league-imposed suspension of four games for a violation of the NFL substance abuse policy. In all, Rogers appeared in just 15 games, starting only nine, and had 36 receptions for 440 yards and four touchdowns.

This spring, with a new coaching staff and the addition of offensive coordinator Mike Martz, seemed like the perfect chance for Rogers to turn things around. But after a spring in which Lions officials seemed to go out of their way to note how well Rogers might fit into the Martz passing-game design, things fell apart in camp. There were suggestions that Rogers was out of shape, had a poor attitude and didn't really try very hard, all of which he denied.

"Honestly, I'm at a loss for words," said Rogers, when asked to explain what when wrong in Detroit this summer. "I thought I did everything they asked me to do. They said, 'We want you to lose 10 pounds,' and I did. Everything [receivers coach] Kippy Brown said I needed to do, I did, and I thought they felt good about me. Then camp started and everything changed. What the problem was, hey, I don't know."

The problem right now for Rogers is that he can't simply buy his way back into the NFL, and is banking on some team being tempted by the skills that made him such a high draft choice. And by some personnel director understanding that he might be able to secure the services of a potentially big-time receiver, a guy still just 25 years old, and for a modest price. So far two teams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins, have auditioned Rogers but neither offered him a contract.

"I want people to know that I'm working hard and I'm ready to play football. I want to play football. ... If anything, what's happened has really [reinforced] how much the game means to me. These two weeks away, well, let's just say I'm hungry to get back."
--Former Lions WR Charles Rogers

That the Dolphins didn't jump on Rogers was somewhat surprising, given his relationship with head coach Nick Saban and receivers coach Charlie Baggett, both of whom were involved in recruiting Rogers when they were at Michigan State. Rogers felt he had a "pretty good" workout for the Dolphins, but there have been reports the audition was just average, and that Miami officials want the wide receiver to get himself into better shape before they reconsider signing him.


Whether the Dolphins' lack of inclination to sign Rogers was an ominous sign -- the team needs a No. 3 wide receiver and Rogers, at first blush, seemed a good fit -- remains to be seen. For now, all Rogers can do is keep working out and stay ready for the next call from a team curious enough to look at him.


Rogers can do all the weightlifting required of him, but when he can't do is make NFL general managers lift up the telephone to invite him for a workout. For that, he has retained a new agent, Jason Fletcher, and ended his long relationship with former representative Kevin Poston. Young and energetic, Fletcher has put a lot of minutes on his overworked cell phone this week, calling virtually every personnel director in the league, and eliciting responses of varying interest from more than a dozen franchises.


The volume of encouragement, for Rogers, speaks volumes about what he feels is an opportunity that soon will land him back in the league. And, motivated by just the promise of a second chance, Rogers isn't very picky right now about where that opportunity might be.


"I really don't care where I play as long as I'm playing," Rogers said. "Would I have loved to play my whole career [in Detroit]? Of course. I mean, I was 90 minutes from home and 30 minutes from where I had played in college, surrounded by friends and family, you know? But maybe a change of scenery is the best thing in the long run."


Asked if he has been humbled by the experience of being cut adrift, and out of work for two weeks now, Rogers said that humility has always been one of his strongest traits. Still, he and Fletcher have taken some measures to demonstrate to teams that Rogers is not the guy some have perceived him to be. Rogers spoke by phone last week with an Atlanta-based advisor who counsels many NFL prospects on how to present themselves in interviews. An in-person session may follow. And Fletcher is dispatching to all 32 teams a letter detailing his client's commitment to the game and desire to play again.


Rogers is confident the moves will pay off and that he doesn't have to begin planning a second career.


"Teams always need wide receivers and I can still play," Rogers said. "I don't think negative things. I don't have time for that. Can I sleep at night? Yes. Is there a little bit of [anxiety] about the situation right now? Yeah, probably. It makes you wonder about the future. But I know, if I just keep working hard and doing my thing, it's going to work out. I know it."

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here .

Deberg_1990
09-17-2006, 10:22 AM
We already have our rebuilding project: Rod Gardner. At least Gardner has actually put up yards on the field before. Rogers has never even gotten out of the gate.

StcChief
09-17-2006, 10:23 AM
Rogers is confident the moves will pay off and that he doesn't have to begin planning a second career.

If he has half of the $16M just retire.

blueballs
09-17-2006, 10:24 AM
he could not beat out the once stomping QB
turned WR Marcus Vick
who was cut and re-signed
not a good sign

GoTrav
09-17-2006, 10:25 AM
at least bring him in for a look...not like it would hurt anything. If he looks like shat then you've lost nothing.

Ultra Peanut
09-17-2006, 10:27 AM
Toronto Argonauts.

NaptownChief
09-17-2006, 11:00 AM
If he has half of the $16M just retire.


Government got half before he even got started buying anything...If he is lucky he might have $4 or 5 million left of the approximately $9 million he made after taxes. Odds are it is much less than that cause he is young player figuring that kind of money would keep coming in for many more years.