With more than 200 players who would have been unrestricted free agents in 11 days forced to accept the fact that they’ll be slapped with much less valuable restricted free agent tenders in the uncapped year, Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal reports on the existence of a “growing amount of chatter” regarding the possibility that the un-unrestricted free agents will stay away from minicamps and organized team activities.
“My guys are not going to show,” one agent told Mullen.
Said another agent of the NFL, “If they want this fight, let’s have it right now.”
For many of the restricted free agents, however, the holdouts can’t last beyond June 15. At that point, the RFA tender can be dropped to 110 percent of the player’s salary from 2009.
For some, however, the difference will be negligible. As we pointed out last week, Texans tight end Owen Daniels would see his tender drop from $3.168 million to $3.0172 million. And Chargers running back Darren Sproles, if tendered at any level higher than the lowest-level right of first refusal, would already be at 110 percent of his 2009 salary.
Still, plenty of other players were earning in the six figures last year; after June 15, they’d see a steep drop in their seven-figure tender offers.
With most of the offseason work done by June 15, the deadline doesn’t really mean all that much from the standpoint of minicamps and OTAs. And with a player’s only true leverage being a withholding of services, the restricted free agents who would have, could have, and/or should have been unrestricted free agents have an easy way to make their displeasure with the situation known.
Of course, they also can make their displeasure known by pushing the union to get a deal done with the NFL on a new labor agreement before March 5.