|Sauerbrun returns to Broncos|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 19 April 2007 11:06|
The 13-year veteran punter agreed to a one-year contract Thursday with the team that jettisoned him last October after he was suspended for violating the NFL's drug policy. He was caught using the banned dietary aid ephedra in a misguided attempt to lose weight and gain gusto for his workouts.
Sauerbrun's deal with Denver was worth more than the $1.395 million he was scheduled to make with the Broncos last year. Sauerbrun started the 2006 season with Denver, but lost his job to Paul Ernster while serving a four-game suspension for using ephedra.
Sauerbrun, who is expected to sign the contract on Friday, and Ernster will compete for the job in training camp this summer.
``We have every expectation he's going to have a huge year and he's going to be playing in the Pro Bowl and hopefully the Super Bowl,'' agent David Canter told The Associated Press from Miami.
The deal came less than 24 hours after an arbitrator ruled his contract with the New England Patriots was void.
Sauerbrun, 34, agreed to a one-year deal with the Broncos earlier this month, but the Patriots matched it through a clause in his contract with New England. Sauerbrun had signed with the Patriots last December and punted in the playoffs.
Sauerbrun, with the help of the NFL Players Association, contended that the clause was inappropriate because it was not written separately from the contract itself, a requirement for right-to-match deals. A special master in Boston ruled Wednesday that the Patriots erred, thus freeing Sauerbrun.
``Todd wanted to be in Denver, and that's not a knock on New England. the Patriots stepped up last year when nobody else would and Todd is very appreciative of that,'' Canter said. ``But the reality is the best opportunity for Todd is in Denver. Throw in the Scott O'Brien factor, and it's really a great situation.''
Sauerbrun's desire to return to Denver grew stronger when the Broncos hired O'Brien as their new special teams coach this offseason. Sauerbrun flourished under O'Brien while with the Carolina Panthers.
Canter said he hopes to pursue a multiyear deal by season's end so that Sauerbrun can end his career with the Broncos.
Sauerbrun has a career punting average of 44 yards, with a net average of 36. He made the Pro Bowl three straight times, between 2001 and 2003, when he was with the Panthers.
Coming off a great 2005 season in Denver, Sauerbrun said he knowingly took an over-the-counter weight loss product last summer that he strongly suspected contained ephedra, which the NFL banned after the death of Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Korey Stringer during training camp in 2001. Players are randomly tested and can be suspended after the first violation.
That drew the ire of Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, who said the punter is the only player on the team who can be fat as far as he was concerned.
Sauerbrun, who packs 215 pounds on his beefy 5-foot-10 frame and who was fined by the Panthers for eating too much, said at the time he worries about his weight all the time.
He also said he especially regretted letting down Shanahan, who gave him a fresh start after a trouble-filled stint in Carolina, and that he hoped he could make it up to him someday.
He now has that chance.