NFL’s obsession with ending holdouts could backfire on some teams

New York Giants v Seattle Seahawks
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The latest labor deal makes it harder than ever for players under contract to hold out. As a result, this year’s ritual of players reporting to training camp has included, so far, not a single player under contract holding out.

Here’s the question: With unhappy players unwilling based on the terms of the current labor deal to draw a line in the stand and stay away, could the presence of men who aren’t happy with their current circumstances and who feel like they have no options backfire on one or more teams?

In Miami, Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard showed up when he clearly had no interest in doing so; he has since made a public trade demand. Other players who want new contracts or changes of scenery have reported. Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore showed up. Cardinals pass rusher Chandler Jones showed up. Seahawks safety Jamal Adams showed up. Packers receiver Davante Adams showed up. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson showed up. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who supposedly didn’t care about the financial consequences of staying away, caved in and showed up.

The latest CBA increased daily fines for holding out of training camp while under contract to $50,000 per day. For players not operating under their rookie contracts, the fines no longer can be waived.

That has undoubtedly prompted some players who would have stayed away to show up. Which means that unhappy players who’d rather not be present believe they have to be there.

The term “hold in” will become more popular moving forward. It’s been a very real dynamic in the NFL for years. Players sometimes show up and, for example, have a nagging hamstring strain that keeps them from practicing. Coaches don’t like it, but what can they do? Pick a fight with someone who’s already ready to rumble?

The league’s decision to make it harder to hold out increases the chances of another Terrell Owens situation, where a player who wants a new contract and/or a trade but who doesn’t hold out shows up and creates a three-ring circus that morphs into a major distraction. Again, if you take away (as a practical matter) the ability of a disgruntled player to simply stay home, that player will look for another way to get what he wants. In some situations, it will be much better to have that guy not in the building, not around teammates, not interacting with coaches and others from management, not making things potentially worse before they can get better.

Given the number of unhappy players who showed up for 2021 training camp, it makes sense to pay close attention to how things unfold for each of the players who, in past years, would have been more inclined to stay away. The greater the unhappy players who don’t hold out, the greater the chance that there will be at least one situation that implodes.

19 responses to “NFL’s obsession with ending holdouts could backfire on some teams

  1. Whether it be contract disputes, problems with getting the vaccine, criminal acts, or just your garden variety bad behavior; there are a lot of guys in this league who are impossible to like.

  2. But if a player shows up for camp and is visibly a distraction and disruptive, this gets publicized and likely reduces any future teams interest in them. Being home is sort of out of sight out of mind. So not the best strategy to get what you want

  3. Who will be the first to refuse to practice in pads getting hit? Conversely, will teams with so- called “hold-in” players want them to? Maybe that is the metric to determine what teams may do about these players. If they see the field in pads=new deal? No pads-no new deal?

  4. NFl is no different from big government in that respect. They do not like dissent. It portrays strength. They don’t like that.

  5. My bet is on Xavien Howard to be the first one to explode and even though he says it’s about the money, I think it’s more about Byron Jones’ contract.

    Howard is still the 6th highest paid corner in the league so how can you have outplayed a contract that, I think, made him a top 3-4 money cb 2 years ago?

  6. The distraction exists whether the player is at camp or not. If Rodgers held out, that would bring its own circus. Having the player stay home is not necessarily a way to limit the distractions to the team. Teams should just plan on X percent of their players to be disgruntled at any given time just like the rest of the working world does.

  7. I like it. I’ve never thought poorly run organizations should be rewarded. Whether it’s a grocery store, a restaurant, or a football team. You have to be an owner that knows how to hire a good General Manager. That can be difficult if you don’t understand how to succeed in sports. Most owners either made money in a different business, or inherited their money or team. They get all kinds advice, but with no knowledge of sports, they can’t really decipher good advice from bad advice. And some want to win more than others. It’s a great investment either way. Fans matter, and this is good for the fans.

  8. It’s not going to end until other teams start viewing these players as liabilities, and only offer peanuts in trade or in free agency after a holdout/hold in.

  9. when the players sign their contracts they should be made to complete the terms of said contract…if not, what is the purpose of a signed contract?

  10. I love how the pundits claim Rodgers caved, when all he really did was shatter their predictions.

  11. It doesn’t make sense that a player can be told to honor your contract when the team can terminate the contract any time it wants.

  12. players signed a contract (thus, agreeing to the terms).

    As such, they need to sbide by the terms or deal with the repercussions of not doing so.

  13. One year max contracts for all veterans. Players would have to earn their contracts every year.

  14. nyfootballgiants says:

    July 28, 2021 at 7:08 am

    But if a player shows up for camp and is visibly a distraction and disruptive, this gets publicized and likely reduces any future teams interest in them. Being home is sort of out of sight out of mind. So not the best strategy to get what you want
    ——————–
    That’s a cute narrative but its not true. In a perfect world if your a distraction less teams or no teams will want you but we dont live in a perfect world. Talent prevails over everything else which is why T.O. continued to find jobs, Mike Vick and Aldon Smith were able to find jobs after off field issues that became major distractions and other stars know the same. If your talented and as long as you stay 1 of the more talented players your able to get away with that stuff it’s when players get older and their talent no longer is head and shoulders above their competition that interest finally starts to decrease.

  15. stung4ever1983 says:
    July 28, 2021 at 8:16 am
    It’s not going to end until other teams start viewing these players as liabilities, and only offer peanuts in trade or in free agency after a holdout/hold in.
    ___________

    Offering peanuts in a trade only hurts the team, not the player. Offering peanuts in FA will ensure that your team doesn’t sign a player, because SOME team will pay him.

  16. Each situation is different. Jamal Adams, for instance, is far different than Aaron Rodgers. Adam’s wants to get a long term contract with guaranteed payment at the highest rate in history. He was traded for so much that his value to the Seahawks is self evident. Rodgers was insulted by his team by the drafting of his replacement. He threw a wrench in the Packers plan last season by his elite performance. He wants out. His agreement with the packers will be an exit strategy. Adam’s strategy is to remain, long term.

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