Skip to content

In today’s NFL, players have every right to hold out

Terrell Suggs,  Ed Reed AP

Ravens safety Ed Reed realizes that players can get what they want only by holding out.  Reed himself seems to be seriously considering a holdout of his own, even though he’s under contract for 2012.

Last month, I had an epiphany on this subject, thanks to our buddy Ross Tucker of NBC Sports Network, SiriusXM NFL Radio, Sports USA, and more.  I now believe that, regardless of whether a player is laboring under the slotted rookie deal that he has outperformed or whether he’s playing out a veteran deal that the team always has the unilateral ability to tear up and disregard, he has the right to hold out.

He has the right to hold out because, if he does, he’s behaving no differently than the men who amassed enough money and influence to own an NFL team.  Businessmen don’t simply trip into success (although some are born into it); they make shrewd decisions, based on the realities of any given situation with which they’re faced.

For players who have contracts and who want new ones, they can hold out if they’re willing to accept the potential consequences.  For starters, the player who holds out while under contract will be fined $30,000 per day.  He also may have to surrender bonus checks that he already has cashed, and possibly already has spent.  If he has fewer than four years of service toward free agency, a holdout could delay his entry to the open market by another year.  And he could face a fan and/or media backlash.

But, in the end, if he knows that his team needs him enough to eventually bend, it could be the smartest, shrewdest break he ever makes for himself.

That’s why we disagree completely, unequivocally, and totally with Ashley Fox of ESPN.com, who basically lectures Reed about the dangers of a holdout, urging him to be a good soldier and report for duty.  Fox argues that “[h]oldouts rarely work,” citing the green-and-white brick wall into which diminutive receiver DeSean Jackson rammed his head when he held out in 2011.  Fox claims that all 32 teams will react as negatively as the Eagles did in Jackson’s case, prompting him to tuck his tail between his tookis and show up.

What about Titans running back Chris Johnson?  He turned a multi-week holdout into $30 million guaranteed, even though he was under contract for two more years.  Ditto for Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who held out two years ago, got paid, and may hold out again.

Many other players have held out, and they have gotten paid.  Maybe not what they wanted, but more than they were due to receive.

In Reed’s case, doing what the Ravens assume he’ll never do could get their attention.  And it could get them to give him more money.  And it could be much more money than he’d get come 2013, especially if he suffers an injury in 2012.

It’s inherently contradictory for journalists to in one breath fret about head injuries and in the next to discourage the men who put themselves in harm’s way from doing whatever they think they have to do to get fully compensated for the risks they take.

As long as the player accepts and understands the possible cost of a failed holdout, we fully support anyone who decides to take a stand, regardless of whether he has one year left on his contract, or 10.  If owners were players with skills that the team needed, that’s precisely what the owners would do, too.

Permalink 39 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Baltimore Ravens, Rumor Mill, Top Stories
39 Responses to “In today’s NFL, players have every right to hold out”
  1. vbe2 says: Jul 13, 2012 2:41 PM

    “In today’s NFL, players have every right to hold out”
    ================================

    As opposed to “Yesterday’s NFL” when they didn’t?

  2. luckynumberlucas says: Jul 13, 2012 2:43 PM

    Why would they hold out?

    They should blame their agents for not getting a good deal in the first place.

    I can understand if a player who makes 500k holds out after a superb season.

    I can’t understand if a player holds out who makes 9 million just to get 10 million.

    In that case, blame the agent for not getting him 10 million in the first place.

  3. treesloth16 says: Jul 13, 2012 2:43 PM

    HAHAHAHA. Love your response, Florio.

    I hate Ashley Fox’s hypocrisy. She’s never played a down of NFL football and thinks we’ll eat up what she says cuz she’s got a cute little avatar.

  4. beast3011 says: Jul 13, 2012 2:46 PM

    Fantastic take. About time someone said something about this one-sided issue. Thanks

  5. pitch87mph says: Jul 13, 2012 2:50 PM

    I tend to agree, except for circumstances where it is clear the player is being compensated correctly, but just already received payment in advance. In other words, as an extreme hypothetical example. If a player signed a 3 year contract, and essentially received the bulk of the contract value upfront (for whatever salary cap reasons), and then after one year into the contract, decides to hold out because their salary that year will be too low (even though they essentially were paid the salary upfront–let’s say their “salary” in year two was the veteran’s minimum), but when considering the amount prepaid, (had it been averaged) would have been perfectly acceptable, then I think the player is basically acting unethically. Sure. He can hold out and maybe force the team to pay him even more (even if the team had the right to get back a part of the signing bonus–at the end of the day, if the guy’s not going to play and is willing to pay it back–the team loses out on his services, and the player basically received an interest free loan) which in some cases, even if it’s totally unfair to the team, they may do anyways because they are backed into a corner.

    Naturally, that’s why teams probably don’t give those monster signing bonuses anymore and seem to be moving more toward year to year option bonuses, roster bonuses, etc. Cause I think that tendency for players to ignore the fact they were paid upfront and their current salary reflects the fact they were prepaid, was a rather common problem in the past (see Owens, Terrell).

    So I still think it has to be evaluated on a case by case basis, and on the facts and circumstances of a given case. To say that a player should hold out “because they can”, leads to some rather undesirable ethical problems. I’m fine with holdouts for the reasons stated in your article. But to suggest it’s always appropriate cause the player is just being a “businessman” is simply an overstatement, imho.

  6. smacklayer says: Jul 13, 2012 2:50 PM

    Employers pay employees just enough so they don’t quit. This point is called the market clearing price for whatever job we are talking about, whether it is a janitor or the QB for the Saints.

    If someone can clean my office just as good for less money, I will hire him and fire my current cleaning crew. If someone can quarterback as well as Drew Breeze for less than $100million, he will be replaced.

  7. jamesmbell says: Jul 13, 2012 2:51 PM

    Thank you for coming to your senses!!! You can apologize to T.O. now…

  8. swingondeesenuts says: Jul 13, 2012 2:53 PM

    I rarely hate on a guy for holding out but far too often players with little leverage decide to pull this kind of move and it just ends up backfiring on them. If you are in the last year of a deal that your clearly outperformed, then you shouldn’t come to camp until you get some additional security (signing a franchise tender is security in my opinion) but if you just signed a long term deal and have multiple years left, you need to show up and do your job. This notion that guys take a big signing bonus for signing a 5 year deal and then want it ripped up after two seasons because the played well is a joke. A pretty good example of this is Jones-Drew. He recently signed a long term deal and had no problem taking a nice bonus check but now after he had a great season (isn’t that his job?) on a bad team he wants another new deal. The Jags are right to tell him to pound sand.

  9. SkeletalDrawing says: Jul 13, 2012 2:55 PM

    I agree 100% Mike.

  10. nflofficeadmin says: Jul 13, 2012 2:55 PM

    The only catch is… you have to be an outstanding player in order for it to work.

  11. jagsfanugh says: Jul 13, 2012 2:57 PM

    MJD can hold out if so chooses too. Good luck though if does as the GM has already stated his contract will not be renegotiated.

  12. myeaglescantwin says: Jul 13, 2012 3:01 PM

    100% agree with the headline.

    in this NFL there is no loyalty on the teams behalf. Once a team feels the player under performs they want to restructure the contract or cut the player.
    These owners are all about profit. from the 18 games to TV timeouts,, they have sold out to greed.
    Look at players like Westbrook or Tautupo.. they suck the life out of these players and then cut their loses.

    when you are top notch player, you hold all the cards… Ray Rice, Ed Reed, Brees, everyone should hold out to get the guaranteed contract they deserve.

  13. Lonely Libertarian says: Jul 13, 2012 3:01 PM

    There is a way to stop this game of “chicken” – some team needs to bite the bullet and tell a player they will not negotiate – period. And further that if the player misses camp or any part of the season they will not be reinstated in their old starting role once they return.

    The player can then sit out and give up the income.

    The most likely options for this solution would seem to be an aging veteran who has only a year or two left to play [Ed Reed] or younger player who plays a position with lots of viable alternatives [Mike Wallace]

    Once this happens players and their agents will take contracts more seriously.

  14. damnprofitablemarketing says: Jul 13, 2012 3:01 PM

    I agree… hold out and get the most out of it. Good for Brees!

  15. chuckbednarik says: Jul 13, 2012 3:02 PM

    Hallelujah

  16. zaggs says: Jul 13, 2012 3:06 PM

    “Businessmen don’t simply trip into success (although some are born into it); they make shrewd decisions, based on the realities of any given situation with which they’re faced.”

    Um, probably. But most don’t become rich by reneging on their deals and contracts.

  17. jtbndy says: Jul 13, 2012 3:07 PM

    Players always cite the whole “outperforming rookie contracts” as a legitimate reason for holding out. That’s fine, but what about when you significantly underperform you contract?

    If players can hold out when they overperform a contract, why can’t teams “hold out” when those players grossly underperform their contract?

    All this stuff needs to stop in my opinion. As a player, sign a contract and play through it. At the end, if you outperform, use that to your advantage at that time, not 1/2 way through your current contract. As a team, stop pandering to whiny players. Don’t concede and negotiate extensions mid contract, let them hold out if they want to.

  18. gordyb7 says: Jul 13, 2012 3:07 PM

    Great points.

    A contract is NOT a MORAL agreement that says “I will show up no matter what and if I don’t, then I’m a greedy selfish bad person”.

    A contract is a BUSINESS agreement which states the terms of compensation IF a player chooses to play and IF a team chooses to keep him on the roster, and what happens IF either party freely chooses not to.

    Players are just as free to hold out their services for a better offer as teams are to cut players and offer to bring them back at a lower salary, but too often fans and the media are quick to demonize or judge a player as being “greedy”.

    If you really believe in a free market, that means neither party is morally obligated to make a particular business decision.

  19. irisht53 says: Jul 13, 2012 3:08 PM

    If holdouts become perfectly acceptable, why not just get rid of long term deals all together? Instead, have the rule be that a player cannot be signed longer than 2 seasons (so, right now, the longest any player could be signed for is thru the 2013 season). That way the team would be encouraged to resign/extend all of it’s key players, every year, to make sure they do not become UFA’s at the end of the next season. Player’s would always be encouraged to play their best (I believe 98% or more do anyways, but no more Haynesworth situations) to make sure they get paid.

    I’m tired of players complaining they’re ONLY getting $3 million this year, however when they signed that contract, the average payout was $6 or $7 million a year, and got $15-$20 million up front. Players LOVE long term deals when they cash that signing bonus check, but are not too keen on them when there’s 2 or 3 years left and they’re base salary puts them in the bottom half of starters at their position.

    Every once in a while there’s a valid complaint of over playing the contract (Chris Johnson, Revis the first time), but too often you have an Ed Reed or MJD situation come up, where the overall contract value is still about right, the player just doesn’t like the last couple years.

    There’s a risk for GMs and Owners too. If the player busts, the GM may lose his job because he cannot sign other players that will help his team. For the owner, they dump $20 – $40 mil of guaranteed cash for a player, and sometimes never see anywhere close to a return of investment. Granted, those risks are not the bodily harm that the players risk, which is much more dangerous. All of those risks; player, GM, owner; are all a part of the path chosen by the person.

  20. steelernationisthepinnacleofexistenceyouarenothing says: Jul 13, 2012 3:09 PM

    Again, the Steelers continue to prove their superiority over the league in just about every case. When will other teams start taking notes?

  21. bearsstillsuck says: Jul 13, 2012 3:11 PM

    I’m old fashioned I guess. If you sign a contract, you should honor it.

  22. FinFan68 says: Jul 13, 2012 3:13 PM

    Bull. Players get those big contracts with an expectation that they will perform up to a certain level. If they don’t perform, they should get cut but some don’t. Very rarely is a player cut (while still performing at a high level) because a team can’t afford their salary. In those rare instances, the players almost immediately get signed on with a new team. Teams also have the ability to draw up a new contract early without the player even threatening to hold out–and they do this all the time but it is rarely noticed.

    What Revis did/is about to do is despicable. Ed Reed is already making what he deserves. He has been a great player but if a restructure is warranted it should be for less money rather than more. He still plays well but not as good as he used to. His injury history/age lead a reasonable person to believe his value is declining not going up.

    When is the last time a holdout has resulted in an increase in performance? Rarely has a player that holds out even maintained his previous performance in the year of the holdout.

    While your diatribe mentions that players get paid more by holding out, I couldn’t help but notice your omission of whether or not the player actually deserved more money or if they performed to a level worthy of the new contract once they got it.

  23. daaabears says: Jul 13, 2012 3:18 PM

    Have to agree with the article. I don’t know anymore what the average career is (used to be a tad over 5 yrs.), but you are playing likely half of your career on the rookie wage scale.
    I also think the union got fleeced on the 4 yr. rookie wage scale. Maybe they didn’t care because it would not apply to any of them. If true the owners took huge advantage here.
    ——————–
    To pitch87;
    Your first paragraph is not hypothetical…that’s Lance Briggs every three years, but point taken.

  24. geo1113 says: Jul 13, 2012 3:19 PM

    treesloth16 says:
    Jul 13, 2012 2:43 PM
    HAHAHAHA. Love your response, Florio.

    I hate Ashley Fox’s hypocrisy. She’s never played a down of NFL football and thinks we’ll eat up what she says cuz she’s got a cute little avatar.
    ————————-

    Florio never played a down either, so would you call him a hypocrite too. He said he had an epiphany last months which means he had a different opinion before that. Fox gave what we call an opinion. Fox has a “cute little avatar” and is employed by ESPN to give her opinion. Florio has a website and gives his opinion. And both have been successful. Fox worked hard and got a better job. Florio worked hard to create this website which he eventually sold to NBC. Neither are hypocrites. They have opinions. You obviously have an opnion on the subject, so let me ask you this. Have you ever played a down in the NFL? If not, what does that make you?

  25. farty5 says: Jul 13, 2012 3:20 PM

    One thing forgotten in all of this is that Ed Reed doesn’t have an agent.

    If he was really upset over his contract, he would hire a representative to work on it. Otherwise, he’s just peeing down his leg.

  26. mrpilsner says: Jul 13, 2012 3:20 PM

    Wow. An attorney joining the chorus that a signed contract does not require fulfillment… really?

    And this is how business works amongst “professional” athletes?

    What’s the difference between this and some kid holding his breath until he gets his way?

  27. rpiotr01 says: Jul 13, 2012 3:28 PM

    Depends on the player. Ed Reed should do whatever he wants. He’s played a long time, made a lot of dough and had a bunch of neck injuries too. If it’s really only worth it to him to do that particular job for a certain amount of money, then I totally agree with him.

  28. granadafan says: Jul 13, 2012 4:03 PM

    Players ought to just sign 2-3 year contracts, and reassess market conditions after that. Most of these players blew the big signing bonus and upfront money. Then they want to be paid the same big bucks from the 1st year throughout the length of the contract. These mental midgets don’t realize that the contracts are not divided equally throughout the years. If they demand more money the first year, then there will be less money during the remaining years.

  29. rockthered1286 says: Jul 13, 2012 4:08 PM

    Reed has a fragile ego and does this every year. “show me you love me by paying me” is all it is. Extension? Sure. More money? You’re a free safety coming off a subpar season dipping out of tackles and plagued by injuries. If you seriously think that warrants more money…

    And that’s coming from a Ravens fan by the way.

  30. nmking26 says: Jul 13, 2012 4:11 PM

    jtbndy says: Jul 13, 2012 3:07 PM

    Players always cite the whole “outperforming rookie contracts” as a legitimate reason for holding out. That’s fine, but what about when you significantly underperform you contract?

    If players can hold out when they overperform a contract, why can’t teams “hold out” when those players grossly underperform their contract?

    ———————————

    Um…it’s called getting cut. Teams cut players who are under performing every day.

  31. josh928 says: Jul 13, 2012 7:05 PM

    Or the players could just play the contract they sign..when they put their signature on a contract they’re agreeing to play for the length stated. I doubt it says anywhere in the contract “the length is only a suggestion. If u turn out to be a really good player u should prolly just holdout and demand more money.” If ur good enough and ur team likes u, they can restructure…but it’s not very fair to say oh I rushed for 1500 yards in my second year, that makes my contract unfair. Pay me more

  32. austinwhodat says: Jul 13, 2012 8:01 PM

    gordyb7 says: Jul 13, 2012 3:07 PM

    Great points.

    A contract is NOT a MORAL agreement that says “I will show up no matter what and if I don’t, then I’m a greedy selfish bad person”.

    A contract is a BUSINESS agreement which states the terms of compensation IF a player chooses to play and IF a team chooses to keep him on the roster, and what happens IF either party freely chooses not to.

    Players are just as free to hold out their services for a better offer as teams are to cut players and offer to bring them back at a lower salary, but too often fans and the media are quick to demonize or judge a player as being “greedy”.

    If you really believe in a free market, that means neither party is morally obligated to make a particular business decision.
    ***********************************************
    OMG!!! You are so right! I’ve said that many times before, albeit in a different way. I love your morality vs business comparison. But make not mistake, owners DO NOT

  33. austinwhodat says: Jul 13, 2012 8:04 PM

    Ooops press entered by mistake …

    But make not mistake, owners DO NOT pay more than a player is worth, i.e., market value. I’ve come to the conclusion that fans (i.e., normal “not rich” Americans) are simply haters! They are flat out jealous!

  34. backindasaddle says: Jul 13, 2012 8:07 PM

    “In today’s NFL, players have every right to hold out”
    —————————————————————-

    In todays NFL every player makes far far FAR more money than 99% of the rest of the population. They may have the “right” to hold out….. but they sure as hell don’t get any compassion or sympathy from me.

  35. covercorner says: Jul 13, 2012 9:19 PM

    Bravo! It’s about time you had this epiphany. The teams have been terminating contracts since there were contracts.

  36. Match Point Floppy says: Jul 13, 2012 9:24 PM

    “Or the players could just play the contract they sign..when they put their signature on a contract they’re agreeing to play for the length stated.”

    But the owners can cut them whenever they want to. Why don’t the owners have to agree to pay them for the length stated?

  37. qj1984 says: Jul 13, 2012 9:53 PM

    If you think the Ravens are going to bend for Ed Reed you’ve got another thing coming. I don’t care if he is Ed Reed. The big difference between CJ2k and Revis are age. Ed Reed is 33 years old, injury plagues and consistently wavering about his future. The Ravens are not going to make high dollar long term commitment to that and you can count on one hand how many teams would.

    Reed is in for a rude awakening. No team is going to pay him Eric Weddle money, he’s not going to get a long term deal, which means he’s not going to collect a bunch of guaranteed money. The Ravens have likely already put out some feelers about Reeds value.

  38. bmoreballbuster says: Jul 13, 2012 10:58 PM

    ED enjoy the 7.2M…it’s the last credible payday you’ll ever have, just wish it was deserved w/o your constant bitching. Yeah right…

  39. donaldduckmg42 says: Jul 14, 2012 5:36 PM

    When a player holds out, he’s basically saying “Yep that’s right, my signature on that last contract meant absolutely nothing. I did not agree to the contract.” That’s really what it is.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!