2010 NFL Pre-Training Camp Top Stories – Holdouts

Even 3-time Super Bowl winning QB Tom Brady is a potential holdout before training camps start

Holdouts are a rite of passage leading up to training camp. When one player gets a shiny new contract (See Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall’s deal for four-year deal worth $47.5 million with $24 million guaranteed), there are five other players who are saying they deserve equal or more.

Of course NFL owners are pointing to the 30% rule, an uncapped 2010 season and the certain times around the CBA (owners want an 18% roll-back on player revenues), as the major reasons that they are taking a tough stance with potential holdouts.  But the NFLPA also is monitoring potential holdouts as overall player salaries for 2010 are lower than last year and it has been a very slow free agent market — can you say, “Collusion”… I know NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith can. 

Also owners will not say it, but they do not want to pay a signing bonus on new player deals which could potentially cover lost salary during a lockout.  That is why future Hall of Famer and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who is in the last year of his 2004 contract extension – 7 years, $99.2M with a $34.5M signing bonus (due $15.8M in 2010), has not received a new deal yet.  Manning and Patriots QB Tom Brady are expected to get new contracts with at least $50 million guaranteed.

However I have found most players talk tough about holding out during OTAs and the offseason until the prospect of fines — $14,000 to $16,000 dollars daily for missed training camp days — and missed game checks in the regular season come into play. The dollars can pile-up quickly — Seahawks receiver Deion Branch lost over $600,000 dollars in fines and 1 game check of $65,625 dollars during his 2006 holdout with the Patriots.

Holdout players under contract definitely need to understand that a prolonged stay away from their team could cause them to lose accrued seniority towards free agency. Under NFL rules, players under contract must report at least 30 days before the overall first NFL regular season game (August 10th deadline) or they will forfeit an accrued season of seniority.  Players talking tough about a holdout that might end up in this category are Brady, Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth, NY Jets CB Darrelle Revis, Titans RB Chris Johnson, Steelers OLB LaMarr Woodley and others.

As for unsigned draft picks, franchised players and restricted free agents that are thinking “Holdout”, the Week 10 of the regular season is huge.  Because players not under contract, who eventually sign after a holdout, need to be part of the team for at least in six regular season games in order to earn an accrued season towards free agency.  The biggest potential 2010 holdouts in this category are Chargers restricted free agents WR Vincent Jackson and OT Marcus McNeil.

Everyone associated with the league also is monitoring “Holdout” talk around unsigned rookie players. With training camps about 2 weeks away (Cleveland Browns rookies report on July 23rd), there are currently no first round selections signed at this time including first overall pick St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford —  expected to receive a contract greater than Lions QB Matthew Stafford’s – 6 years, $72M with $41.75M guaranteed.  Hopefully the NFL will avoid the rookie signing problems that force San Francisco 49ers WR Michael Crabtree to sit-out well into the 2009 regular season — 20 of the 32 first-round picks in 2009 were unsigned when their teams opened up training camp. As of July 14th, there have been 138 of 255 players from the 2010 NFL Draft signed.  My guess for the longest 2010 first rounder holdout is Buffalo Bills RB CJ Spiller (9th overall pick)

In the end… if McNeil, Vincent Jackson, Haynesworth and the rest of the NFL’s many holdout candidates do continue to stay away, they need to understand that holdouts are a no-win situation everyone involved. The holdout game also usually produces animosity, lost team chemistry, and injuries. Plus most players coming back from holdouts quickly realize that their team’s have moved on without them as the “NFL Never Sleeps”. 

2010 Holdout Watchlist

Patriots QB Tom Brady

Colts QB Peyton Manning

Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth

NY Jets CB Darrelle Revis

Titans RB Chris Johnson (received a $2M escalator payment early)

Saints OT Jermon Bushrod

Cowboys WR Patrick Crayton

Cardinals DT Darnell Dockett

Chargers OT Marcus McNeil

Chargers WR Vincent Jackson

Colts WR Reggie Wayne

Broncos DE/OLB Elvis Dumervil

Ravens OT Jared Gaither

Browns LB D’Qwell Jackson

Eagles WR DeSean Jackson

Texans WR Andre Johnson

NY Jets center Nick Mangold

Jaguars CB Rashean Mathis

Chargers LB Shawne Merriman

Redskins LB Rocky McIntosh

Titans TE Bo Scaife

Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley

Bills RB Marshawn Lynch

Vikings DE Ray Edwards

SF 49ers NT Aubrayo Franklin (Unsigned Franchise Player)

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

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