2010 NFL Holdout Report

It is “Holdout Time” around the NFL and surprisingly Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth, the league’s highest paid defensive player, is making the most noise about not reporting to training camp

Holdouts are a rite of passge leading up to training camp and always are big news. 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.

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

Also holdout players run the risk of losing 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. Also keep in mind Week 10 of the regular season when talking about holdouts and free agency.

Unsigned franchised players and restricted free agents, like Chargers potential 2010 holdouts WR Vincent Jackson and OT Marcus McNeil, need to play at least six regular season games in order to earn an accrued season towards free agency. So most lingering holdouts will surely end by Week 10 as I can’t even think of a player crazy enough to lose an accrued season.

There is also no doubt that the looming threat of a lockout in 2011 (CBA expiring) looks like a big cause of the NFL’s “Holdout” problems.  A signing bonus on new player deals would likely cover lost salary, but why would owners want to protect big-ticket players. 

In the end… if McNeil, Vincent Jackson, Haynesworth and the rest of the NFL’s many holdout candidates continue do stay away, they need to understand that holdouts are a no-win situation everyone involved. Most players after coming back from holdouts realize that their team’s have moved on without him and in Branch’s case, he has not been the same player after holding out.

The holdout game almost always leads to animosity, lost team chemistry, and injuries – just look at the 2007 Kansas City Chiefs (4-12), who were a team that never got on track after running back Larry Johnson’s extended holdout that lasted almost the length of training camp.

None the less, there are several players and their agent that are talking holdout with about a month to go until training camp.

2010 Holdout Watchlist

Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth – Recently fined $10,000 dollars for missing a mandatory OTA, but seems determined to not play in Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett’s new 3-4 allignment.  You would think the $21 Million that the Redskins paid Haynesworth on April 1st would humble him enough to want to play.  This one looks like it is going to be a long one… it may take Roger Goodell, the NFLPA, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, and Chad Speck (Haynesworth’s agent) getting involved.

NY Jets CB Darrelle Revis — After having the season of a lifetime in 2009 and having his play termed “Revis Island”, this All-Pro wants a deal like his peers.  He definitely deserves to be paid more than Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall (2009 deal for 6-years, $55 Million with $23 Million guaranteed).  To Revis’ credit, he did report to mandatory OTAs.  However NY Jets’ owner Woody Johnson has already written big checks to OLB Jason Taylor and WR Santonio Holmes plus there is the little matter of the uncertain NFL labor landscape (CBA expires in March 2011).

Titans RB Chris Johnson — The player with probably the biggest gripe out there is CJ2K.  After busting into the NFL record books in 2009, Johnson is slated to be paid less than is backup Alvin Pearman — slated to make $630, 000 in 2010.  This is a tough one to call, because the Titans — led by no-nonsense head coach Jeff Fisher — seem poised to dig their heels in given the NFL’s labor situation and their conservative nature.  If the CBA was already in place, this one would only take a New York minute.  To matters worse, CJ2K is tweeting his frustrations.  The 2009 NFL offensive player of the year recently told the Tennessean, “I can’t play for $550,000…The money that I am playing for, I am getting paid less than the starting 11 and I’m one of the lowest paid starting running backs in the league.’’

Saints OT Jermon Bushrod – An unhappy O-lineman that has experienced Super Bowl success and wants to be compensated too.  Bushrod,  a road-grader restrict free agent, will probably get new deal soon as the Saints recently traded Jammal Brown to the Redskins.

Cowboys WR Patrick Crayton — I don’t think he has much leverage as the Cowboys are getting ready to take care of restricted free agent Miles Austin and they have already drafted future starter Dez Bryant in waiting. May get his wish to be traded to Miami.

Cardinals DT Darnell Dockett – Reported, but is very unhappy about not getting a new deal yet. His agent is Drew Rosenhaus so you never know what direction this contract squabble could go.  Has criticized Haynesworth for not reporting.

Other potential training camp holdouts

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

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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Crabtree is finally ready to play for the Niners

michael-crabtree

WR Michael Crabtree is finally ready to sign with the SF 49ers and now we will see if the future NFL Diva Receiver can shake off the rust to help a team that only has one touchdown catch by their receiving corps

There will not be a rookie season holdout for soon-to-be San Francisco 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree.  The aspiring NFL receiver and perceived diva will end his over two-month contract holdout when he signs with the Niners today.  Reportedly the Niners will give the unsigned first-rounder (10th overall) a six-year deal with the terms undisclosed. All indications are that deal is somewhere around the 5-year, $20M contract the 49ers had been offering since training camp and that the sixth year is voidable.  Crabtree will probably make somewhere around $1.8 million in 2009, which was the amount that the Niners had left in their rookie salary pool.  But don’t forget that Crabtree has all ready forfeited four game checks in the 2009 season.

Crabtree’s signing ends the NFL’s closest situation to former running back Bo Jackson’s season-long holdout in 1986.  It was known that Crabtree had flown to the Bay Area on Monday to help in negotiations with Niners general manager Scot McCloughan.  However you never really knew if Crabtree and his gaggle of advisers including his agent (Eugene Parker), former NFL great Deion Sanders, and his bail bondsman relative David Wells, would allow the deal to go through (deadline was November 17th – the last day to sign rookies before they were put back in the 2010 NFL Draft).  Crabtree and his crew had talked tough, asking for more than the amount that the Raiders overpaid for their first rounder Darrius Heyward-Bey — 7th overall pick got 5-years, $38.25M real/$54M max; $23.5M guaranteed.  But in the end, Crabtree needed the Niners (3-1) more than they needed him.  Niners no-nonsense head coach Mike Singletary made it abundantly clear that the team would go on with or without the former Texas Tech star. 

So with Crabtree back in the Niners fold, they clearly may have added another impact player to the NFC West’s leading team.  The Niners current leading pass catcher is emerging TE Vernon Davis (17 catches for 211 yards, 12.4 ypc, and 3 TDs).  Crabtree probably would have been a Top 5 pick, if not for a late-season foot injury that lingered into the draft process.  Before the 2009 NFL Draft, some considered Crabtree to be the next Larry Fitzgerald after only two years at Texas Tech, where he was a man amongst boys producing 231 receptions for 3,127 yards, and 41 touchdowns. One scout I talked to prior to the draft, raved about Crabtree’s ability to start-and-stop in routes, superior hand-eye coordination, good body control and an aggressive run-after-catch skills.

Now the next player vying for the NFL’s “Diva Receiver Crown” will need to win over the Niners’ lockerroom and Singletary, who is known for his “Can’t use him” mentality.  Already in post draft mini-camps, Singletary got on Crabtree in practices so it will be fun to see how long it takes for him to adjust to the NFL game.  Crabtree after signing is expected to be placed on the roster exemption list for 1 to 2 weeks as he rounds himself into football shape. 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2009 NFL Training Camp Holdout Watch List

Holdouts are always big news leading up to and during training camp.  But the holdout game can be very costly in terms of team chemistry and injuries – just look at the 2007 Kansas City Chiefs a team that never got on track after running back Larry Johnson’s extended stay away.

Also players under contract risk large amounts of money in fines (approximately $16,000 per training camp day missed) and accruing seniority toward (under a league rule, players under contract must report at least 30 days before the overall first NFL regular season game or lose an accrued season of seniority) by holding out.

None the less, holdouts are a rite of passage during NFL training camps.  However I don’t know if players are longer willing to fork over fine money or teams and agents are doing a better job, because there are only four reported NFL veteran holdouts as of August 3rd

As for rookies after a slow start last week, first rounders are coming to terms quickly (23 of 32 signed).  My guess is that Chiefs DE Tyson Jackson (3rd overall and Bengals OT Andre Smith (5th overall) will be the last first rounders in the door.

2009 Training Camp Holdouts

Raiders DE Derrick Burgess (Holding Out) – For third season in a row, this two-time Pro Bowl player is very unhappy with his current deal that will pay him $3.5 million in 2009.  It is very clear that Raiders new head coach Tom Cable and his defensive coordinator John Marshall are not happy with the somewhat injury prone soon to be 31-year old defensive end.  After a breakout season in 2005 where he compiled 16 sacks, Burgess’ numbers have decreased from 11 sacks in 2006 to 8 sacks in 2007 and 3.5 sacks in 2008.  It doesn’t look like either side is going to budge and Burgess is looking to be traded rather than report for training camp, but where is his leverage.  The Raiders are exploring their options – possible deal with the Patriots — but as of July 29th, Burgess’ wallet is getting lighter by the day. He probably wants the contract of Oakland Raiders teammate DT Tommy Kelly, seven-year, $50.5 million w/ $18.125 million in guarantees – don’t hold your breath on that one. Burgess has already accumulating fines to date totaling over $79,000 at a rate of $15,800 per training camp day missed.

Texans CB Dunta Robinson (Holding Out — Has not signed franchise deal) — Robinson is unhappy with being franchised this offseason and continued his holdout efforts from earlier OTAs.  He was to have reported on July 31st, but he remained AWOL.   Texans GM Rick Smith recently said of Robinson’s situation, “I think Dunta needs to be in camp, and that’s my opinion, I think he needs to be here with his teammates and when he’s coming in, that’s a decision he’s going to have to make.”  This maybe a long drawn out process as Robinson, 27, already missed the opportunity as of July 15th to sign a long term deal this season.  The only contract he can take is the one-year, $9.9 million tender offer the Texans have extended to him.  Robinson only played in 11 games last season, starting six, after recovering from serious knee and hamstring injuries suffered in 2007.  The former 2004 first round pick had 2 INTs in 2008, which was well off his career best of 6 INTs established during his 2004 rookie season.

Jets RB Leon Washington (Holding Out) – One of the best multi-purpose backs in the NFL, Washington was to have reported to Jets camp on July 30th.  After a career season where he totaled career-high 2337 all-purpose yards, scored 9 TDs (6 rushing, 2 receiving, 1 kickoff) and made his first Pro Bowl appearance, Washington wants to get paid.  The 27-year old is scheduled to make $535,000 this season and is not happy that he is being mentioned in competition with Thomas Jones (also unhappy) for the starting running back job, but is not being paid like a starter.  The former 4th round pick in 2006 recently said regarding his holdout, “Honestly the situation is pretty much the same as it was in minicamp”.   After missing all of the Jets’ OTAs, Washington means business and probably wants a deal in the neighborhood of Maurice Jones-Drew’s new four-year, $31 Million contract including $17.5 million guaranteed.   Washington’s agent, Alvin Keels, and Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum have been negotiating for some time, but the two sides are far apart.  However Washington should be careful as Jones and developing rookie Shonn Greene are already in camp receiving reps and new Jets head coach Rex Ryan is a no-nonsense coach.

Falcons WR Roddy White (Holding Out) – Another player who just had a “breakout” season and wants to cash-in now.  He has one year remaining on his original five-year rookie contract – set to make $2.28 million –but wants a contract extension.  White made his first Pro Bowl after establishing a franchise record for receiving yards (1,382) off 88 receptions with 7 TDs.  The 27-year old former first round pick from UAB was to have reported to the Atlanta Falcons Training Facility in Flowery Branch, GA on July 31st.  Probably is looking for a contract close to Seattle Seahawks free agent pick-up T.J Houshmanzadeh’s five-year $40 million contract with $15 million guaranteed.  With the Falcons already paying big dollars to QB Matt Ryan, DE John Abraham, and RB Michael Turner, these negotiations could become difficult.  Ryan recently said of White’s holdout, “Yeah, you’d like everyone to be here and I certainly would, Roddy’s a big part of this team. But, we’re hopeful he’ll get it done soon and be out here working with us.”  The player who is probably not missing White is emerging receiver 2nd-year receiver Harry Douglas (23 rec, 320 yards, and 1 TD as a rookie in 2008).  Currently has fines totaling $47,664 as of August 4th.

Other Players that have reported to camp, but have been on the Watch List at one time or another this offseason

Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin (Reported – Is signed through 2010 and doesn’t look like he will be traded, so he will need his new agent Tom Condon to work his magic)

Eagles CB Sheldon Brown (Reported – Agreed with Eagles front office head Joe Banner to let cooler heads prevail.  But will Brown receive the same treatment as Lito Sheppard in ’08 is the key question)              

Browns WR/KR Joshua Cribbs (Reported – Talking, but threatening to holdout once the regular season starts)       

Jets RB Thomas Jones (Reported – May benefit from Washington’s holdout)    

Cardinals DT Darnell Dockett (Reported – Hoping that agent Drew Rosenhaus can strike a new deal for him)          

Broncos WR Brandon Marshall (Reported – Is not happy about his contract, but with his off the field behavior why would the Broncos budge.  Currently has an “injured” hamstring)

Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco (Reported – I guess when he is not Twittering that he and Rosenhaus will be whining about getting a new deal despite coming off a disappointing 53-catch season in 2008)       

Packers DB Nick Collins (Reported)              

Texans TE Owen Daniels (Reported)            

Packers WR Donald Driver (Reported – Wants a new deal after just getting one in 2006)

Jaguars DT John Henderson (Reported – Maybe on trading block)        

Packers WR Greg Jennings (Reported – Signed an extension in June 2009)

Redskins FS Laron Landry (Reported)          

Falcons C Todd McClure (Reported)             

Eagles QB Donovan McNabb (Reported – Restructured Current Contract that runs through 2010)

Bucs LB Barrett Ruud (Reported)   

Bucs OG Arron Sears (Did not Report — Off the field issues)   

Panthers DE Julius Peppers (Reported – Signed his 1-year Franchise Deal)

Ravens OLB/DE Terrell Suggs (Reported — Received new multi-year deal)         

Chiefs LB Mike Vrabel (Reported)  

Chiefs G Brian Waters (Reported)  

Patriots NT Vince Wilfork (Reported)              

Vikings CB Antoine Winfield (Reported — Received a new deal)             

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2009 NFL Draft Class May Have a First Rounder Holdout Problem

The other day someone asked me around the start of training, “How many first rounders have signed already?”  Immediately I thought there had to be at least half of the 32 picks, but I was totally taken aback when I realized the number was a whopping 4 players.  As of July 27th, only top quarterbacks Matthew Stafford (1st overall pick by the Lions) and Mark Sanchez (6th overall pick by the NY Jets) plus Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack (No. 21 pick) and Steelers DT Evander “Ziggy” Hood (No. 32 pick) are the only first rounders acclimating themselves to NFL training camps rather than being stuck at the negotiating table.

I don’t know if it is the threat of an uncapped year in 2010, impending CBA talks including a possible rookie wage scale, rookies and their agents showing their greedy ways, the “domino” effect where rookies are waiting for the guy in front of them to sign or first-year guys having jitter about singing their college fight song in the players cafeteria.  But for the first time since rookie holdout heydays in the early ‘90s there are more stuck on the sidelines than ever.  Of course team management and players’ agents will say the current rookie holdout trend that we are experiencing has everything to do with the current adherence to the rookie “slotting” system.  The system that is in place today causes both the teams and agents to rely heavily on the deals of the players selected the previous year in the same slot plus agents also have to wait to see the deal of the player taken before their client in the current draft class.

But something else is going on with the 2009 NFL Draft class’ first-round players and it has a lot more to do with than teams and agents getting stuck on voidable years in a contract.  The odd thing is every team is given a “rookie pool” to operate within their own salary cap, so you would think the process of signing your first rounder would not be so difficult.  Here is how the rookie salary cap works, on a league-wide basis the rookie pool — created within Article XVII of the CBA — is the total amount of money that can be spent on rookies, except for the minimum base salaries given to undrafted rookies. Each team’s rookie pool is its portion of the league-wide total and is determined by the number, round and position of the draft choices it uses.

See the league-wide allocations for the 2009 NFL Draft Class on the ESPN website. The total rookie pool league-wide for the 2009 NFL Draft class was $150.755 million, which represented an increase of about 7 percent over the 2008 rookie pool.  A record 12 teams each earned rookie pools of $5 million or more.  So as each team’s rookies sign from lower rounds, teams should know exactly how much is left for year one of the rest of the team’s drafted rookie class.  For example, the Lions signed Stafford to a six-year, $78 million contract with guarantees of $41.7 million. Stafford’s deal will count $3.1 million against the Lions rookie cap, leaving $4,974,992 million leftover for the team’s other nine draft picks.

Unfortunately the NFL’s rookie system is flawed in that the pool is restrictive often causing rookies’ agents to try inventive ways to dictate their price, terms, and incentives before even negotiating.  There have been rumors that the NFL in the next version of the CBA will adopt a strict NBA-like rookie pay scale, where given a player’s draft spot, the rookie will make a set amount for a set number of years.  The possible addition of a hard rookie cap in the next CBA would be welcome news to NFL veterans where current system allows a rookie like Matthew Stafford can make more than 3-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning before he has even stepped on the field.  Most veteran agents know that they are usually only hurting their rookie clients by allowing them to holdout.  NFL.com analyst Gil Brandt, a long-time personnel director for the Cowboys, said of rookie holdouts, “Any player who misses more than three days of camp is taking a serious risk”. 

Brandt added, “What rookies see at OTAs and minicamps doesn’t compare to what they see at training camp. Everything is accelerated 100 percent”.  Often rookie holdouts have proven Brandt’s words correct as injuries (hamstrings especially) and missed time often spell disaster to a rookie’s chances of making an impact in year one.  A rookie holdout can also sometimes derail their entire NFL career before it even begins.  This unfortunate fact was shown by the classic case of former Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Tony Mandarich, who held out for 43 days entering the 1990 NFL season and never really got the traction or learning needed to be a quality offensive lineman in the NFL. Mandarich was dominated from the start of his rookie year to the finish – only played in 9 offensive series — and was eventually released by the Packers after several disappointing seasons.

Last year Jaguars defensive end Derrick Harvey held out for the majority of training camp and when he did arrive, the Jags got a different player than they thought was select in the draft.  Harvey was out of football shape and never really caught up from missed training camp time, producing only 3.5 sacks for the season.  Of course Harvey’s holdout did not make him beloved with his teammates, who were already sweating in training camp and many of whom were going to make less than the unproven first rounder.  Former Jaguars linebacker Mike Peterson said at the time, “He’s slotted. I have a hard time understanding what is the problem…To me, basically it’s how bad a guy wants to be in camp to take the high end of the slot or the low end or meet in the middle.”

 The one rookie that I am most interest in following at the negotiations table is former Texas Tech star receiver and San Franciso 49ers draftee Michael Crabtree — quickly looking like a prima donna after missing work in OTAs and being yelled at this offseason by head coach Mike Singletary for his attitude.  The 10th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft is reportedly seeking a contract worth much more than the usual salary slot for a No. 10 pick. 

Hopefully Crabtree and the other 28 remaining unsigned 2009 first rounders will come to terms soon.  It would be a shame if players miss too much time and basically throwaway their first seasons – See the aforementioned case of Tony Mandarich in 1990, former Bengals quarterback Akilli Smith in 1999, and Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell in 2007.

Current signing status of 2009 first-round picks including their agent(s) and signing terms, if applicable

 1.  Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford — Tom Condon — signed April 25th with the terms: 6-year, $78 million contract with guarantees of $41.7 million.

2.  St. Louis Rams OT Jason Smith — Ben Dogra/Michael Lartigue — currently unsigned

 3.  Kansas City Chiefs DE Tyson Jackson — Eugene Parker — currently unsigned

 4.  Seattle Seahawks LB Aaron Curry — Andy Ross/Mike Sullivan — currently unsigned

 5.  New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez — David Dunn/Andrew Kessler — signed June 11 with the terms: 56-year, $60 million contract with guarantees of $28 million.

 6.  Cincinnati Bengals OT Andre Smith — Alvin Keels — currently unsigned

 7.  Oakland Raiders WR Darrius Heyward-Bey — Tom Condon/Ben Dogra — currently unsigned

 8.  Jacksonville Jaguars OT Eugene Monroe — Sanat Shah – currently unsigned

 9.  Green Bay Packers DL B.J. Raji — David Dunn — currently unsigned

 10.  San Francisco 49ers WR Michael Crabtree — Eugene Parker — currently unsigned

 11.  Buffalo Bills DE Aaron Maybin — Joel Segal/Chafie Fields — currently unsigned

 12.  Denver Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno — Tom Condon/Ben Dogra — currently unsigned

 13.  Washington Redskins LB Brian Orakpo — Ben Dogra/Michael Lartigue — currently unsigned

 14.  New Orleans Saints CB Malcolm Jenkins — Ben Dogra/Tom Condon — currently unsigned

 15.  Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing — Tom Condon/Ben Dogra — currently unsigned

 16.  San Diego Chargers LB/DE Larry English — Todd France — currently unsigned

 17.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  QB Josh Freeman — Ken Kremer/Ron Freeman — currently unsigned

 18.  Denver Broncos DE Robert Ayers –Tony Agnone/Edward Johnson/Richard Rosa/Noel LaMontagne — currently unsigned

 19.  Philadelphia Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin — Jim Steiner — currently unsigned.

20.  Detroit Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew — Sean Howard, currently unsigned.

21.  Cleveland Browns C Alex Mack — Tim Younger/Marvin Demoff — signed July 25 with terms not disclosed other than the contract was a five-year deal with an over 10% jump from 2008’s No. 21 pick (Atlanta offensive lineman Sam Baker).

22.  Minnesota Vikings WR Percy Harvin — Joel Segal –currently unsigned

23.  Baltimore Ravens OT Michael Oher — Jimmy Sexton, currently unsigned.

24.  Atlanta Falcons DT Peria Jerry — Bus Cook  — currently unsigned

25.  Miami Dolphins CB Vontae Davis — Todd France — currently unsigned

26.  Green Bay Packers LB Clay Matthews — David Dunn/Mark Humenik/Joby Branion/Justin Schulman — currently unsigned.

27.  Indianapolis Colts RB Donald Brown — David Dunn/Mark Humenik/Joby Branion/Justin Schulman — currently unsigned

28.  Buffalo Bills C Eric Wood — David Dunn/Mark Humenik/Joby Branion/Justin Schulman — currently unsigned

29.  New York Giants WR Hakeem Nicks — Peter Schaffer — currently unsigned

30.  Tennessee Titans WR Kenny Britt — Todd France — currently unsigned

31.  Arizona Cardinals — RB Chris Wells — Adam Heller/Brian Kopp — currently unsigned

32.  Pittsburgh Steelers DL Evander “Ziggy” Hood — Andy Ross/Mike Sullivan — signed July 25 with terms: five years with $6.1 million guarantee and a base salary of 8.7 million dollars, which could raise to 11.3 million dollars based on incentives, according to sources 

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Holdout Watchlist: Regular Season

(Philadelphia, Pa) – Holdouts are always big news during training camp, but once the regular season starts and teams get in the weekly NFL grind, holdout players often become forgotten men — See Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell last season and going back in the day Mike Richardson and Todd Bell missed out on a Super Bowl title with the 1985 champion Chicago Bears.  With teams starting to game plan for their regular season week one opponents and tough roster decisions to be made (Cutdown to 53 players is August 30th @ 4 PM), holdouts are out of sight and out of mind. Continue reading

2008 NFL Training Camp Holdout Watchlist

(Philadelphia, Pa) – Holdouts are always big news leading upto and during training camp.  But the holdout game can be very costly in terms of team chemistry and injuries – just ask the Kansas City Chiefs about how they feel about running back Larry Johnson’s holdout from ’07.

Also players under contract risk large amounts of money in fines (approximately $15,000 per training camp day missed) and accruing seniority toward (under a league rule, players under contract must report at least 30 days before the overall first NFL regular season game or lose an accrued season of seniority) by holding out.

None the less there is plenty of “holdout” talk around the NFL.

Philadelphia Eagles OG Shawn Andrews – (AWOL – Has not reported) One of the NFL’s most bizarre training camp stories gets stranger by the day.  All of the speculation finally ended on August 4th as news that the “The Big Kid” as he likes to call himself has an issue with depression.  The fun part will now be how the Eagles handle Andrews’ huge fines ($15,000 per day) that have been piling up (But you know how this team operates when it comes to $$$).  How this holdout turns out only time will tell as Andrews “says” he will be back before the end of training camp on Aug 13th.  The Eagles must make sure that they handle this situation carefully (Remember former Cowboys DE Demetrius Underwood and for Raiders O-Lineman Barrett Robbins).  If this scenario has anything to do with money then Vikings’ Pro Bowl Guard Steve Hutchinson ‘s contract (7 years, $49 Million w/ 10 Million in guarantees) would be a good start for Andrews and his agent Rich Moran. Current Contract: In June 2006, Signed a 7-year contract extension for $40 million through 2015.

Buffalo Bills OT Jason Peters (Holding Out) After sitting out almost all of the Bills’ off-season workouts, the big left tackle is looking to get paid by the small market Bills.  The upstart AFC East franchise, which many are picking to make some noise in ’08 needs Peters to protect the blindside of whomever is the Bills’ starting quarterback. The former undrafted free agent from ‘04 is coming off his first Pro Bowl season and is looking to receive a contract in the neighborhood of Cowboys LT Flozell Adams (six-year deal for more than $43 million with $15 million guaranteed).  Peters has missed every day of camp since August 2nd causing him to have fines around $120,982 based on a daily maximum potential fine of $15,116 dollars. Current Contract: Signed a 2005 deal for five-years worth $15 million.

St. Louis Rams RB Steven Jackson – (Holding Out) After attending mandatory OTA’s, it was obvious that Jackon, who is in the last year of his contract was unhappy.  The 25-year old power back has missed everyday of camp since it opened on July 25th in a holdout …ouch at $15,000 per day .. while his Agent Eugene Parker is trying to work out a deal.  With 2nd yeat running back Adrian Peterson owning a six-year, $40.5 million contract w/ 17 million guaranteed, many veteran running backs want to also get paid.  Unfortunately for the veteran RB’s, teams are not paying top dollars for them any longer – Just ask out of work RB’s Shawn Alexander, Cedric Benson, Ron Dayne and Travis Henry.  Current Contract:  Due $1.7 Million on five-year, $7 million deal he signed in July 2004.

Philadelphia Eagles RB Brian Westbrook – (Reported) B-West has never publicly complained and he came to camp ready to work in a professional manner.  But everyone knows that the Eagles best player is grossly underpaid — In 2007, Westbroook made 2 Million from the contract extension that he signed in 2005.  His ‘07 salary ranked him 20th behind players like DeShaun Foster and LaMont Jordan.  There is no doubt Westbrook at 29 years of age and nearing the magical age of 30, will have a difficult task getting “Stone Wall” Joe Banner to renogiate.  Westbrook even told McNabb’s agent Fletcher Smith to take a walk in an effort to get a new deal — Signed with agent Todd France (also Omar Gaither’s rep) in hopes that he and the Eagles can work out an extension…don’t hold your breath though.  I think Westbrook should at least be in the neighborhood Houston Texans running back Ahmad Green (four-year, $23 million contract).   Current Contract: In November of 2005, signed a five-year contract extension that runs through the 2010 season and is worth slightly less than $25 million. The deal included a $12 Million dollar signing bonus.

Tennessee Titans DT Albert Haynesworth – (Reported – Signed Franchise Deal) Begrudginly signed his 2008 “franchise” deal of $7.25 million for 1 year (wants the contract of Oakland Raiders DT Tommy Kelly, seven-year, $50.5 million w/ $18.125 million in guarantees).  With the Titans losing every game that Haynesworth missed ‘in ’07 (record of 0-4), I am hearing that Titans owner Bud Adams and head coach Jeff Fisher are huddling to get a new contract in place, so this fiasco does not have to happen in February ’09.  Current Contract: The aforementioned 1-year $7.25 million dollar “franchise” deal

Cincinnati Bengals WR Chad Johnson – (Reported) Ocho Cinco had off-season surgery on his ankle not surprisingly right after he and his agent Drew “Next Question” Rosenhaus realized they had no leverage.  Johnson is in camp, but has not practiced due to his “injury”.  Hopefully sooner rather than later, Ocho and “Next Question” will realize that the Bengals and head coach Marvin Lewis will not budge, with the “promise” to look into Johnson’s deal after the season. Current Contract: April 2006 contract extension w/ terms six-years , $35.5 million deal. Contract paid Johnson $16 million in bonuses and salary for 2006 and 2007. The remaining money due includes $3 million for this season, $4.5 million in 2009, $5 million in 2010 and $6 million in 2011

Detroit Lions WR Roy Williams – (Reported) After not reporting to some OTA sessions due to “bad weather”, Williams showed up from training camp on time, but still seems a little perturbed that he doesn’t have Terrell Owens’ four-year $34 million dollar contract extension.  Look for Williams to play out his deal in hopes that GM Matt Millen can work out a trade or extension.  My guess is the Lions will “franchis” Williams if nothing can be worked out. Current Contract: Signed a five-year, $15.25 million contract in August of 2004 and is due $5.8 million in ’08.

Arizona Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin  – (Reported) After missing voluntary OTAs, his agent Drew Rosenhaus – Why is it he always seems to be part of holdout talk – made sure Boldin reported.  Unfortunately a nagging hamstring injury has limited his activities and of course seeing Shockey and Taylor traded did not make the big receiver happy.  He clearly wants the same $$$ that teammate Larry Fitzgerald received (four-year, $40 million contract, with $30 million guaranteed) this past off-season or to be traded, but GM Rod Graves is playing harball.  Current Contract: Signed a four-year, $22.67 million contract extension through 2010 on 7/31/2005. The deal included a $5 million signing bonus and contains $10 million in total guarantees w/ Boldin due $2.5 million in ’08.

Philadelphia Eagles CB Lito Sheppard – (Reported) The former first round pick in 2002 made a power move by hiring Drew Rosenhaus as his agent.  But I hope he doesn’t think that move will motivate “Stone Wall” Joe Banner to renogiate or trade him.  With Asante Samuel’s hamstrings being very iffy and teams playing three receiver sets about 60% of the time, expect to see Sheppard in an Eagles uniform versus the St. Louis Rams on September 7thCurrent Contract: Signed a 8-year, $26.3 Million deal w/ a 8.7 Million signing bonus in ‘04 season.

New Orleans Saints TE Jeremy Shockey – (Traded) The “big-mouth” tight end was traded to the New Orleans Saints by the NY Giants for a pair of draft picks in 2009 picks (2nd and 5th rounds).  Shockey now he will not have to deal with Giants GM Jerry Reese and he will be reunited with Sean Payton, who somehow is on the violatile tight end’s good side.  It will be interesting to see if Shockey has grown up from the injured player at the Super Bowl who swilled beer in a skybox as his teammates won the big game.  Current Contract:  On 10/12/2005, signed a contract extension for five-years at $26 million with $10.5 Million in guarantees

Washington Redskins DE Jason Taylor –  (Traded) The NFL’s most interesting off-season Soap Opera came to an end on July 20th when the Miami Dolphins sent “Mr. Dancing With the Stars” and his career 117 sacks to the Washington Redskins for a second-round pick in 2009 and a sixth-rounder in 2010.  The move clearly helped both sides as Taylor didn’t want to end his career on a team rebuilding from a 1-15 season and Bill Parcells needed the future picks for his 3-year plan. Current Contract: In 2004, Taylor signed a three-year contract extension that put him under contract through the 2009 season. The new deal runs from ’04 to ’09 and is worth $45 million including nearly $10 million guaranteed.

New York Giants DE Osi Umenyiora – (Reported) With the retirement of Giants’ all-time sack leader Michael Strahan, the G-Men and Umenyiora appear headed toward a re-negoiation.  However the ’07 Super Bowl Champs may want to wait and see if Umenyiora is still motivated.  The G-Men have newly signed Renaldo Wynn and returning from injury Mathias Kiwanuka as insurance policies against Umenyiora walking out. The G-Men also have O-lineman Chris Snee, RB Brandon Jacobs, and WR Plaxico Burress looking for new deals.  Current Contract:  Signed a contract extension in December 2005 with the terms six years for $41 million w/ $15 Million guaranteed.

Chicago Bears LB Brian Urlacher – (Reported – Signed an extension) The bad blood from OTA’s where the Bears Middle Linebacker reported, but sulked should be over after the McCaskey Family stepped up to key their star happy.  Even though the deal was not the size of Lance Briggs (6 years, $36 Million w/ $13 Million guaranteed).  Urlacher should now be happy.  Current Contract:  Had four years and approximately $25.5 million remaining on his original contract extension signed in 2002 (nine-years, $56.5 million contract with a 13 Million Dollar signing bonus). Under the terms of the upgraded ’08 deal, Urlacher will receive a $6 million signing bonus along with a $1 million bump in salary each of the next four years. The sides also have agreed to extend the pact into 2012, at a salary of $7.5 million. Urlacher can earn an additional $500,000 in a workout bonus in 2012. That’s a total of roughly $43.5 million over the next five years, with $18 million in new money.

Chicago Bears WR/KR Devin Hester – (Reported – Signed an extension) – After initially holding out at the start of training camp for 2 days then “injuring” his hamstring (probably didn’t make too many friends in blue collar Chicago when complaining about a salary of $445,000 for ’08), the Bears and McCaskey family stepped up again to keep one of their stars happy.  There is no doubt that Hester is a special player (NFL single season return record of six in 2007) and the Bears needed to keep him after Bernard Berrian bolted for the Vikings.  Current Contract:  Hester had two years left on his ’06 rookie contract (four-year, $2.86 million rookie contract that called for him to make $445,000 in 2008 and $530,000 in 2009) With his new contract extension through 2013 for four years, $30 million including $15 million guaranteed with a max out at around $40 Million. The deal features escalators of $10 million in each of the final two years featuring receptions, yardage and other targets.

Dallas Cowboys Safety Ken Hamlin – (Reported – Signed to new deal) Much like Haynesworth, Hamlin was not happy with being “franchised”. So sure enough before the July 22nd franchise mandated signing date, open-pockted owner Jerry Jones gave Hamlin a new deal.  Jones more than any owner in the NFL has seized the opening from a potention non-salary cap in 2010 by keeping his players happy (T.O, Pacman Jones, and others). Current Contract: Hamlin on July 15th signed a six-year, $39 million deal including a $9 Milllion dollar signing bonus.

Green Bay Packers RB Ryan Grant – (Reported – Signed new contract) Though technically the former unsigned restricted free agent was not an “official holdout”, this situation had reached an impasse as Grant would not sign the Packers tendered contract (minimum tender of 1-year, $370,000 for a second-year player).  After running for over 1,000 yards including the playoffs, the former Giants practice squad player wanted more and he could not report to training camp as long as there was not a valid contract in place.  Already feeling public pressure from the Brett Favre mess, the Packers gave Grant a healthy extension.  Current Contract:  Four-year deal w/ a cap of $30 million. Much of the money will come from performance-based escalators with the former Notre Dame star earning $4.25 million in ’09 ($3 million roster bonus at the signing and $1.25 million split up into $750,000 in base salary and an additional roster bonus worth $500,000).

Tampa Bay Bucs RB Earnest Graham – (Reported – Signed contract extension) After not reporting to all six OTA’s due to his unhappiness with a contract that called for him to make $605,000 in ’08, Graham’s persistence paid off.  With leverage from a breakout season in ’07, GM Bruce Allen and head coach John Gruden decided they needed Graham in training camp.  Graham joined Cadillac Williams, Warrick Dunn, and Michael Bennett in a crowded Bucs’ backfield after signing on June 30th right before training camp.  Current Contract:  Signed a contract extension for four-years worth $11 Million.

New York Giants Plaxico Burress – (Reported) Burress disgruntly reported to training camp, but made his contract demands known – Of course everyone on the 2007 Super Bowl Champs is now looking for their payday.  The moody, but talented receiver has not endeared himself to ownership and GM Jerry Reese by not practicing due to a “Sore Ankle Injury”.  We will have wait and see if the G-Men can keep their physical receiver happy, but he is asking for T.O type numbers of $9 million per season.  Current Contract:  Currently signed until 2010 from a 2005 contract with terms of six-years, $25 million.

Falcons WR Joe Horn  – (Reported) It appears the Falcons’ career of this former Pro Bowl receiver will be coming soon.  After a 27 catches for 243 yards w/ 1 TD season in ’07 and the Falcons going with youngsters including starters Roddy White and Laurent Robinson followed by Michael Jenkins and ’08 third-round draft pick Harry Douglas, it appears a preseason release is near.  You have to wonder if new Falcons GM Tom Dimitroff is making Horn learn a lesson for speaking out during OTAs before sending him on his way.  There have been rumors that the Cowboys and Titans could be interested, but don’t expect a trade as Horn will more than likely (barring an injury to the youngsters) will be looking for a job by late August.  The veteran receiver said about whether he would be with the Falcons for their Sept. 7 opener against Detroit, “I don’t know.  Within me, there’s frustration, but I can’t take it out on the field. That’s not fair to the younger guys.”  Current Contract:  Due $2.5 million in ‘08 from a Summer 2007 deal w/ terms four-years, $14.5 million contract (before incentives) that runs through 2010.

New York Jets TE Chris Baker – (Reported) Disgruntly reported to training camp, but his “ailing back” landed him on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list for a period.  My main question is “Why is player thinking of possibly holding out on a non-playoff team that just drafted TE Dustin Keller in the first round?”  Baker better start on trying to improve on his modest numbers (career high 41 catches in ’07), if he wants to be paid like Gates, Clark, or Gonzalez.  Current Contract:  Entering the third year of a four-year, $6.6 million contract.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jeff Garcia – (Reported) Disgruntly reported to training camp, but why is he even thinking of holding out as everyone knows Gruden has a gigillian quarterbacks on the rosters and is even thinking of bringing in Favre.  Garcia, who has always had to prove himself, is talking retirement at age 38, but expect him as the Bucs starter at the start of the season. Current Contract:  Garcia is to be paid $2 Million dollars in ’08 from his March ’07 deal with terms two years, $7 million contract that included a $3 million signing bonus. The deal also had another $7.5 million available through incentives.

Philadelphia Eagles OG Scott Young – (Reported) After sitting out some OTA’s….Surprise, Surprise Young came to camp.  Even with Pro Bowl guard Shawn Andrews AWOL, Young is still running with the 2nd team.  But as I stated before, “Does anybody really care that a backup offensive guard best known for a crucial 4th down false-start penalty in a playoff loss is unhappy”.  There have been no negoiations that I have heard of between Young’s reps and Joe Banner.  Current Contract:  Scheduled to be paid $525,000 in ’08 from his rookie 4-year contract signed in 2005.

Rookies Still on the Sidelines – The players selected 7,8, and 9 in the 2008 NFL draft first-round remain unsigned (Saints defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, Jaguars defensive end Derrick Harvey and Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers).  This is not uncommon as each draft position in the first round usually has a pay scale slotting that works off the previous or next one.  Harvey’s agent Ken Kremer recently said of his clients negoiations, “The Jaguars first-round pick Derrick Harvey still isn’t signed because the team has declined to pay him market value for being drafted eighth overall”.  Hopefully these players don’t miss too much time or their rookie seasons could be a waste (think former Bengals quarterback Akilli Smith in  1999).

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer/Analyst for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

HBO’s Hard Knocks Gets Another Character: Larry Johnson Gets His New Contract

(Philadelphia, Pa) — Just when the Chiefs (0-2 and struggling in pre-season) looked like they were going into the season with Michael Bennett, rookie Kolby Smith, recovering Priest Holmes and others at the running back position, they got a lift. The Chiefs announced that holdout running back Larry Johnson agreed to a six-year deal including a $19 million guarantee and joined the Kansas City Chiefs in front of the Hard Knocks cameras at practice on Tuesday. By ending a holdout that got acrimonious at times between Johnson, Chiefs GM Carl Peterson, and the Hunt Family, the Chiefs assured themselves that their workhorse would be on the field for their opener September 9th at the Houston Texans.

Johnson donning his #27 jersey surprised his teammates 45 minutes into practice and returned to chants of “Lar-ry! Lar-ry”. The dollars that Johnson signed for were not as much as the $21 Million guaranteed that LT got, but the Chiefs star wanted to be back with his teammates. One of the first things that Johnson had to do was sign a check for the 25 days he missed at $19,280 per day, meaning the holdout cost him about $357,000.

I have to give credit to Peterson and the Chiefs for giving Johnson such a large deal at age 27 and coming off an NFL record 416 carries last year while rushing for 1,789 yards. Running backs tend to slow down in their late 20’s and recent history has shown that next seasons have been injury riddled and non-productive for backs that have topped the 380 carry mark (Jamal Lewis in ‘03, Terrell Davis ‘98, and Jamal Anderson ’98).

During his holdout, Johnson was working out at a facility in Arizona and appeared to be in good shape. But you will never know how will respond after being away from the game for most of camp. Coach Herm Edwards said Johnson would not play in Thursday night’s exhibition game against New Orleans but would be fully ready by the season opener. Edwards said “He has about two weeks now (to get ready). We’ll see where we’re at. We’ll see where he’s at”. He added “We talked last night. He knows what I expect out of him. He needs to get his legs up underneath him. He’ll have enough time for that.”

The running game has been anemic to be nice this preseason as Bennett and Smith have not played well enough to make anyone forget Johnson. In their recent 11-10 loss to the Dolphins, the Chiefs rushed for only 61 yards even though the Dolphins held out several of their defensive starters.

After sitting behind Holmes in 2003 and 2004, LJ responded with two 1700 yard plus seasons and 37 TD’s on the ground. In his five year career Johnson has appeared in 48 games with 4205 yards rushing, a 4.7 yards per carry average, and 47 TD’s.