With the salary cap not going up much but agents continuously trying (as they should) to set a new bar for what the best players make, something has to give.
Some in league circles believe that, eventually, the situation will result in an explosion of holdouts.
The hot spot is expected to be 2014, when the rookies drafted in 2011, paid under a rookie wage scale, and not eligible for a new contract until after the 2013 season will be inclined to take a stand. That’s when players like Cam Newton, Von Miller, A.J. Green, Patrick Peterson, Julio Jones, Aldon Smith, J.J. Watt, Muhammad Wilkerson, Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, Torrey Smith, Randall Cobb, DeMarco Murray, Cecil Shorts, and Jacquizz Rodgers will all be under contract for at least one more year and able to sign new deals. (The first-rounders will be subject to a fifth-year option at a rate far lower than market value.)
The team’s primary leverage to block a holdout comes from the $30,000 in daily fines for a training camp holdout. But it’s not known how much of that money is ever actually collected. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Jaguars and running back Maurice Jones-Drew eventually resolved his fines exceeding $1 million for a much, much lower payment.
This year, the biggest name to watch for a potential holdout is Vikings receiver Percy Harvin. Others, like Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, could choose to do the same. By 2014, there could be a lot more guys who decide to stay away unless they get compensated for the money they didn’t make on their rookie deals — and that they clearly earned.