Williams asks NFL if he can return to Dolphins

Maybe Ricky Williams is tired of traveling. Maybe he has run out of books to read. Or maybe he doesn’t want to pay the $8.6 million he owes the Miami Dolphins for breach of contract.

Whatever the reason, Williams wants to rejoin the Dolphins and asked the NFL how soon he can return, his agent said Tuesday.

It’s unclear whether the 2002 NFL rushing champion must serve a suspension the rest of this season for repeated violations of the league drug program. He has asked the league for a hearing to clarify his status, but no date has been set.

A Dolphins source speaking on condition of anonymity said the team’s understanding is that Williams can’t play this year because of the violations.

Williams left the Dolphins reeling when he retired just before training camp in late July, and they’re off to an 0-4 start, their worst since 1966. His agent, Leigh Steinberg, declined to discuss Williams’ change of heart.

“All I can tell you is that Ricky has asked me to explore and to try to facilitate his return,” Steinberg said. “He’s excited and in good shape and misses football.”

One likely factor for Williams’ reversal: On Sept. 24, an arbitrator ordered him to repay more than $8.6 million to the team for breaching his contract.

Steinberg and the Dolphins declined to say whether there have been recent conversations between the two parties.

“This is an issue between the player, his representative and the league,” Dolphins general manager Rick Spielman said. “Accordingly, we don’t have a comment on the matter.”

Last week, coach Dave Wannstedt said he hadn’t talked to Williams in about a month.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined to comment on the situation.

Since retiring, Williams has traveled to Asia and Australia, but Steinberg said he’s now in the United States.

“He’s in excellent shape,” Steinberg said. “He’s been working out regularly and looks great.”

Williams and the Dolphins traded long-distance barbs in the days after he quit. But the Dolphins’ poor start would likely make them more inclined to take him back.