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Training-camp holdouts will be complicated by 30-day rule

Several young players are believed to be planning to launch contract holdouts when training camps open in 2010.  But for players who are under contract, a holdout now can create a big problem later.

As we first realized several years ago in connection with the early-camp holdout of then-Eagles running back Brian Westbrook, a player under contract who fails to report within 30 days before the start of the season loses a year of credit toward free agency.

For Westbrook, it meant that if he hadn’t reported for duty 30 days before the annual Thursday night season opener (regardless of whether his team plays in the game), he wouldn’t have picked up a fourth year of service — and thus he wouldn’t have been eligible for unrestricted free agency.  Although showing up after the deadline but before Week 10 of the regular season would have allowed him to get credit for that year of his contract, he would have been only a restricted free agent, since he wouldn’t have gotten the fourth year of service for free-agency purposes. 

For today’s players, it’s more complicated.

Currently, players must have six years of service before becoming unrestricted free agents.  Some think that the new labor deal could push that number back down to four or five.

Either way, guys like Titans running back Chris Johnson and Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis need to factor this reality into their plans.  If Johnson makes good on his threat to hold out of training camp and doesn’t show up before August 10 (30 days before the September 9 game between the Vikings and the Saints, on NBC by the way) he will be stuck at two years of service for free agency purposes after 2010.  So if the new labor deal pegs the path to unrestricted free agency at five years, Johnson would complete his rookie contract in 2012 with only four years of service — making him a restricted free agent.

The same analysis applies to Revis.  He has three years of service, and if he holds out beyond August 10, he’ll still have only three years of service in 2011.

The analysis has particular relevance to unsigned restricted free agents with four years of service.  If, for example, Chargers left tackle Marcus McNeill opts to sign his one-year, $3.168 million tender before the team can drop it on June 15 to 110 percent of his 2009 base salary of $535,000 and he then decides to hold out and pay the daily fines, he’ll be right back where he started from a years-of-service standpoint in 2011.

So when hearing any tough talk now, keep in mind that players with a signed contract could be putting their ability to hit the open market in serious jeopardy by staying away before August 10.

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15 Responses to “Training-camp holdouts will be complicated by 30-day rule”
  1. johnthehillboy says: Jun 4, 2010 1:54 PM

    Only here.
    Thanks Mike.

  2. EverybodyGotAIDS says: Jun 4, 2010 1:56 PM

    This analysis leaves out a key point. Namely: What constitutes “reporting”? Does it mean showing up for 1 day? If so, why not just show up the first mandatory day and then hop a plane back home?

  3. John El Way says: Jun 4, 2010 1:56 PM

    come ooonnnn September!

  4. Hap says: Jun 4, 2010 2:05 PM

    There’s a new CBA on the way at some point(hopefully sooner rather than later). I would think that is an area that just might be addressed. This may be a non-issue next time around.

  5. birdmancometh says: Jun 4, 2010 2:10 PM

    I wouldn’t mind seeing an answer to “Everybod….’s” question.

  6. HarrisonHits says: Jun 4, 2010 2:13 PM

    One would hope their agents are competent enough to warm them of things like this. And if not they need new business management immediately.
    @EverybodyGotAIDS,
    I expect the league attorneys and negotiators are smart enough so that the loophole you suggest does not exist.

  7. It puts the lotion on the skin says: Jun 4, 2010 2:18 PM

    I am still not sold on Revis. He had 1 great year, but how much of that was because the CB on the other side of the field was of average talent? If I had a choice between throwing in the direction of a Pro Bowler, and throwing in the direction of someone else, I am not throwing at the Pro Bowler.
    By not throwing in the direction of Revis, he gets a big head, thinks he is God’s gift to the defensive back field, then the Jets fans get a boner when you say his name, and the coaching staff tells us all how great he is, and he realizes a CB as “great” as him, deserves more money…..He is a Pro Bowler, as I mentioned, but he signed a contract, and should atleast wait until the last year before bitching about it, or have back to back stand out seasons….

  8. PackFaninPackLand says: Jun 4, 2010 2:25 PM

    Florio: “So when hearing any tough talk now, keep in mind that players with a signed contract could be putting their ability to hit the open market in serious jeopardy by staying away before August 10.”
    I think you mean “by staying away AFTER August 10″ !

  9. dabarber says: Jun 4, 2010 2:33 PM

    Hahahaahaha. I bet these millionaire, idiot holdouts didn’t even realize this.

  10. marcduke says: Jun 4, 2010 3:11 PM

    @Harrison Hits
    They missed on Poison Pills, I wouldn’t put it past them to have missed on that too.

  11. AZ Red Bird says: Jun 4, 2010 3:14 PM

    This wouldn’t matter for Revis as he only has 3 years in and still will need another 3 to make it to FA.
    Both Chris J and Revis should hold out….the teams WILL cough up the cash…they have to.

  12. EverybodyGotAIDS says: Jun 4, 2010 3:19 PM

    HarrisonHits says:
    June 4, 2010 2:13 PM
    @EverybodyGotAIDS,
    I expect the league attorneys and negotiators are smart enough so that the loophole you suggest does not exist.
    __________________
    Right, I would think so too, but without the info, the “analysis” is sorta pointless.

  13. Insomniac says: Jun 4, 2010 3:55 PM

    Can a player report and then subsequently leave?

  14. CliveRush says: Jun 4, 2010 4:26 PM

    Revis is the best CB in football. I hope that he does sit out the year and leave the self annointed Super Bowl champs looking as they should, a low life bunch of RATS who never win anything. This includes their fat loud mouth coach must have won a pig eating contest somewhere.

  15. smithopher says: Jun 4, 2010 5:23 PM

    It puts the lotion on the skin says: June 4, 2010 2:18 PM
    I am still not sold on Revis. He had 1 great year, but how much of that was because the CB on the other side of the field was of average talent?
    __________________________________
    What does that have to do with anything? You obviously haven’t watched and don’t understand. Quarterbacks don’t avoid throwing at Revis just because he’s a Pro Bowler, they don’t throw at him because he doesn’t let their receiver get any separation. I understand your argument that the QB would want to throw at the average corner. What about the argument that the QB is going to want to throw to his best WR in a game winning scenario? Like Randy Moss, Ocho Cinco, Vincent Jackson amongst many others, got shut down in those game winning scenarios. The lesser CB is going to be playing on a lesser WR, and the Jets had a solid secondary last year. This season, it should be insane. 5 men in coverage and they will be able to lay down a blanket across the field while Calvin Pace, Jason Taylor, David Harris and Bart Scott get after the QB. I can’t wait for September.

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