Chris Johnson is lucky that he got a little pay raise before his third season in 2010. In the future, that type of renegotiation won’t exist.
As pointed out by agent David Canter, incoming players will not be able to renegotiate contracts before the end of the third season on their rookie contracts. Undrafted players can renegotiate after their second year.
It was pretty rare for guys to get new deals that early in their career, but not unprecedented. While the move seemingly protects teams from holdouts from players like Johnson, it could also limit teams from making early risk: reward bets.
For example, the Eagles locked up young guys like Sheldon Brown, Lito Sheppard, and Mike Patterson after only two years. (Patterson signed an eight-year deal in 2006 after playing only two seasons.) They wouldn’t be able to make those deals now.
Still, we can’t argue too heavily with any rule that prevents possible holdout drama before it starts.