Holdouts could become a real problem for the NFL

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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.

57 responses to “Holdouts could become a real problem for the NFL

  1. They really need to address this issue quickly, 10-20 million dollar contracts really hurt a team. You can’t even rebuild a team and retain the players you’ve drafted anymore they are just asking for way too much money.

  2. The owners had to know, despite the ability to fine $30,000 per held out day, that players would eventually complain about that 5th year salary. The best thing would have been to take a page from baseball and have salary arbitration for a 1st rounder’s 5th year.

  3. The agents and players have got to get a grip. I don’t fault them for wanting more money. But they’ve got to realize that this latest CBA has shifted the paradigm — the cap isn’t increasing anymore. If the cap isn’t going up, it’s simply impossible for salaries to keep going up. The next couple years are going to be interesting.

  4. Richard Sherman is another player who will be eligible to renegotiate his contract in 2014 and has also outplayed his rookie contract.

  5. What if they were a bust and were overpaid in their rookie contracts? Will teams be able to go after them to recover money that was never earned? I’m referring to cases like the Dolphins and their third round tight end Egnew, who was finally able to be active at the end of the season but only played a few plays. maybe the GM that drafted him, Jeff Ireland, should be required to come up with some money to make up for a terrible pick.

  6. They did a little montage of the best NFL dunkers the other day.. (on the goal post)

    Graham is ridiculous with the height he can get.
    they showed him smash is face on the cross bar
    and had one game delayed because he bent the post. it needed to be re-leveled before play could resume.

  7. Hopefully they will stand and fight. NFL players have the worst labor deal in pro sports and they have themselves to blame for it. The un willingness to miss a pay check allowed the owners to renew restrictive measures like the franchise and transition tags as well as put in force the new exorbitant fine structure for holding out. The last labor conflict was a great time to try to pry some concessions from the owners. With many of them having huge payments to make on new and relatively new stadiums (one deathstar in particular comes to mind) the players had a level of leverage that they may never have again. I don’t think many of them were even aware of the position they held. Too many baby-mamas and Lamborghinis cloud the judgement I guess…..Poor SAPS…….

  8. what about the money the teams lost due to bust’s? if they signed a contract they should honor it, hold if your contract is expired for big money i got no issues with. holdout under contract is B.S.

  9. They should come up with some kind of benefit to the team if they resign a player previous to their deal expiring.

    With a similar set up to compensatory picks they should get something to promote the resigning like a late round pick or some kind of cap credit to be used only on another player at the resigned players position.

    With the amount of players that are unsigned FAs that make it these days isn’t it time to add a round or two to the draft?

  10. Amazing these idiots get paid too much as it is, and they are becoming more greedy and selfish. It is not fun anymore to watch these babies, hold out in the real world lose your job.

  11. Maybe we should boycott the NFL. The only way they have enough money to pay ridiculous contracts is because we willingly pay $200+ to go to a game or $100+ for a jersey.

  12. Compensated for money they didn’t make in their rookie deals but clearly earned? Technically, this is a non-sensical statement. The terms of a contract defines what a party can earn. Nothing else.

    If a player’s performance would have resulted in greater compensation had he been in the league a few more years, that issue lies solely on his union. Tenured players wanted a higher percentage than those just coming into the league. Teams are paying the same gross amount in payroll. It just gets apportioned differently so veterans are guaranteed more than rookies.

    Players can hold out all they want. It’s a worthless ploy in the long run. The NFL will continue its successful journey with, or without, them. Everyone is replaceable. Everyone.

    Not until the NFLPA gets better leadership will the players’ situations improve. Blaming the owners for everything is not only inaccurate, it’s a total waste of time. In its current state, the NFLPA is a joke. The owners and Goodell continue to play it like a drum.

  13. I really hope greed doesn’t tear the league apart but it might. Greed by the owners/Goodell in the CBA that kept the cap low, greed by players and owners wanting tons of money that will tear their teams apart, greed from agents wanting that big paycheck for themselves…

  14. Roger Goodell loves the NY Giants. So the solution will be to take money from the Dallas Cowboys & Washington Redskins and give it to the rest of the league for salary purposes.

    All in the name of competitive balance.

  15. You’ve got 53 players splitting roughly $115M, or about $2.15M per player. Pay your QB $20M and your best defender $12M and suddenly you only have $1.6M per player for the other 51. It’s just not a sustainable model.

  16. Maybe the players shouldn’t have been so fast to sign that new labor deal. Maybe D. Smith should have spent less time shopping for fedoras and more time working out a better deal for the players.

  17. “myeaglescantwin says:Feb 19, 2013 10:35 AM

    They did a little montage of the best NFL dunkers the other day.. (on the goal post)

    Graham is ridiculous with the height he can get.
    they showed him smash is face on the cross bar
    and had one game delayed because he bent the post. it needed to be re-leveled before play could resume

    What in the world does this have anything to do with salaries and holding out?
    Perhaps you can tell us his favorite food and what kind of car he drives as long as you are bringing up irrelevant items. Please focus on the task at hand.

  18. They won’t have the opportunity to re-do the CBA for years but the 4/5 year rookie deal is proving that it needs tweaking badly.

    Its purpose was to protect teams from overpaying for what turns out to be fool’s gold (like Jamarcus) so obviously, something had to be done. As the effects of that rule play out, we see that 4 years is too long.

    Rookies have been able to demonstrate their value in a shorter time span so–next time–the players should push for a shortened rookie contract period 2/3 years.

    (That Collective Bargaining Agreement is stinking to high heaven. It’s really too bad too because a deal is a deal.)

  19. I think the players are more than fairly compensated while they play. Too many blow their money, so the only people better off are the agents.

    I would like to see more money put into the retirement fund, so players with long-term issues can get premium health coverage, and I would like to see them have a nest-egg at retirement. When about 7o% of players who make $1o million playing in the NFL are broke three years after retirement, more money is not the answer.

  20. I don’t mind greed from the players. They put their bodies and brains on the line and should be compensated, especially at the positions that historically have short careers. It’s too bad all the power is on the owners’ side. It’s also strange that we hear all these numbers about players contracts and holdouts but we hear NOTHING about the financial operations of all these teams. How much money are they bringing in? How many tax breaks are they getting with their nonprofit status and “boost to a city’s economy”? (10 Sundays a year isn’t making or breaking anything for a business or city) If the teams are taking tax-payer money to build their stadiums that information needs to be widely available.

  21. $30,000/day is absolutely crazy! Some people live off of that amount yearly! These players need to stand by the contracts they sign. Play your contract out and then you will be eligible for a new one.

  22. Why do people get so upset a players when they want a better contract than the one they agreed to, when owners are always breaking those contracts by cutting players when it benefits them?

  23. let em sit! With our real unemployment numbers hovering at 14% teams will find someone who can run, catch or block for the right price…

  24. Cam’s going to have to win some games as a team player instead of as a cultural icon with a Superman gimmick before he’s going to see anything close to $20,000,000.

  25. Rarely does it work out where after getting “the payday” do these player end up doing much of anything after that point. There are exceptions, but that comes most often from position players that don’t have the same risk to their bodies – since once they have their money, they worry about their bodies. RB’s are the worst, since they nearly give up following their “pay day”. WRs aren’t too far behind.

  26. If Goodell can make $30 mil for being horrible at his job these players should be able to make as much as they can. Of Goodell’s $30 mil $20+ mil of it was bonuses. Here’s an idea, give him a lot less money and raise the salary cap so you can pay the people that bring in the money. Last time I checked not a single fan went to see a game because of Jerry Jones, Kraft, Snyder, Benson, etc. they went to see Brady, Rodgers, Bress, Peterson, etc. Pay the people that make you the money.

  27. No other company in the world works the way the major sports teams do. No where else are you going to find the employees earning 50 percent of the pie.
    You are absolutely correct. I believe the average payroll cost in American business is 70% a fair bit higher than 50%.

  28. I thought fines went to some charity. Doesn’t seem right that owners can forgive the fines.

    Even if the fines stay with the clubs they should have written a rule against allowing the teams to waive the fines. Take that option off the table so that the fines have teeth and the agents and players know the teams are powerless to dismiss the fines. Sure they could give the player extra money but that comes from the salary cap.

  29. Holdouts should think long and hard about their decision…pulled hamstrings…bad years…are the RULE for holdouts…nobody wins..PERIOD.

    Need I mention Chris Johnson.

  30. The easy way to avoid the $30K per day fine is to file your retirement papers.

    They can’t fine you if you retire, and you make it clear to the team that you won’t unretire without a new deal.

    And by retiring the team can’t prevent you from taking up another sport, or endeavour because you’re not contractually obligated to the team anymore.

    The only leverage the team has is preventing you from playing in the NFL.

    And since the owners are business men it makes no sense to have an asset that isn’t worth anything to them, and eventually the player will get traded to a team that wants to pay them.

  31. A contract is a contract, the players shouldn’t have a agreed to it under the new CBA if they were going to have issues with it. If those players mentioned want to be mad at anyone it should be their teammates who signed off on it. Anyway I say let them hold out and fine them. Where the heck are they going to play and get paid the ridiculous amount of money they are making. I guess someone forgot to tell them the CFL and AFL don’t pay much and the USFL doesn’t exist anymore.

  32. Seems to me that the solution would be for owners and teams to STOP giving out 20 million / year deals. The more huge deals you see, the more players know it is possible and will rightfully try to get as much as they can.

    If you had leverage when negotiating salary for your new job and you had a chance to get say $100,000 if you fought for it, vs only $75,000 for accepting the offer, you’d likely fight to try and get as much as you can. So can’t blame players for doing the same thing.

    If on the other hand only exceptional players got huge contracts instead of almost any respectable FA like today, there would be less huge deals to go around and players wouldn’t fight for unattainable contracts. As long as someone is going to pay them, they have every reason to hold out.

  33. @pierrepoint

    You’re an idiot. They eat the fines because even though they are not at camp, they are getting credit towards their final year of their contract. If you retire, everything is frozen.

  34. Cities should holdout as well whenever billionaire owners demand that the taxpayers pay for their lavish workplaces.

  35. Everybody complained about Rookies making to much in the old deal now people are complaining about the 5th year option because rookies performed…So how many didnt perform vs did?? We cant have it both ways…In the battle of CBA negotiation its give and take…Sometimes you lose and sometimes you win… If you ball out in year 3 then hopefully you get the new deal but holding out is stupid….Name a great player that held out and didnt experience bad stuff after they did….

    Jones Drew
    list goes on and on and on…….
    Its bad Karma

  36. I’d just modify the rookie scale to make it either 2 years or 4 years. As a player, if I’m confident I’ll be a breakout star, I’d opt for the shorter deal. If I’m less confident I’d opt for the 4 year deal.

    As for holding out, it’s a negotiating tactic. Collectively, the teams have a ton of leverage (which is why the NFLPA is a toothless union), but individually the teams have virtually none. it’s just the way the system is. If teams were that serious, they’d just cut a player who was holding out, or better yet, sue them for breach of contract. Why dont they do that? Because cutting your holdout star player or suing them is bad for business and takes more money out the owner’s pocket than they’d put in it by cutting them or suing them.

  37. Note to agents:

    Push for player option clauses in contracts!!!

    You push for no back-to-back franchise tag years and unemployment compensation (ie Jake Delhomme, Lavar Arrington, JaMarcus Russell, the could-have-beens like Mike Vick, Santonio Holmes, and the possible ones like Nnamdi Asomugha) and you can’t have player option clauses for the player to terminate his contract to seek more money or a new contract?

    Time to put it in! The aforementioned post-contractual effects were once impossible and you guys can’t push for what I am recommending?

    It doesn’t hurt to try.

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