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Holdouts that may alter NFL landscape
Call it the summer of their discontent, but there are some key veterans who are less than thrilled about their current contractual situations.
The big part of the problem for contracts not being extended has been attributed to the complexities and uncertainty of the collective bargaining agreement between the owners and the players. But issues with contracts aren’t just limited to veterans. There’s at least one top rookie who many will keep their eyes on.
Make no mistake about it, Revis is recognized in league circles as the best cornerback in the NFL, and he wants to be paid like it. The final two years of his rookie contract can be voided, making him a free agent after 2010, but the team has the option to “buy back” the final two years at a higher salary number.
It’s not a secret Revis wants to be the highest-paid player at his position, but that moniker currently belongs to Nnamdi Asomugha of the Raiders, at just over $15 million per season. Negotiations between the team and Revis remain at a standstill. While the team’s acknowledged they want to take care of him, they don’t appear close to doing so.
The veteran receiver has two years left on his contract, which was revised early in 2009, a source said. He originally signed a six-year $39.5 million deal back in 2006, which made him one of the highest players at his position, but now he’s outside the top 10. He made it abundantly clear for many months that he’s not happy with his contract, and he hasn’t committed to reporting to training camp on time.
Team president Bill Polian has said the team won’t be doing any new deals for Wayne or DE Robert Mathis until the labor situation’s cleared up, meaning unless there’s a new CBA reached. Peyton Manning, arguably the NFL’s best player, is first up to get a new deal with the team. The final two years of his contract will be voided because he easily met playing time parameters (15 percent for just one season) in the deal, a source said, making him a free agent after this season’s over.
Jackson’s easily one of the NFL’s most talented receivers (68 catches, 1,167 yards, 9 TDs in 2009), and he’d like to be paid like one. Like so many players who’ve been affected by the lack of a new CBA, Jackson’s a restricted free agent — not unrestricted — despite having five years of NFL service. To compound the situation, he is suspended for the first three regular-season games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
Jackson refused to sign his one-year restricted free agent tender worth $3.268 million by June 15, so the team reduced his salary to $583,000. If he holds true to reports, he won’t show up to camp until Week 10, he’ll only make a little over $200,000 this season. But by reporting by Week 10, he’ll still earn a year of playing service, which means he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Marcus McNeill, OT, San Diego Chargers
McNeill, who’s a restricted free agent because he doesn’t have six years of service, wants his contract extended. McNeill, like many players selected in the 2006 NFL Draft, has been frustrated by the lack of desire from teams to extend his contract. Had there been a new CBA completed by the time free agency started this past March, he might have a new deal by now. Instead, the team placed the highest restricted free agent tender on him, which pays $3.168 million.
However, because he refused to sign it by June 15, the Chargers were able to reduce his base salary to 110 percent of his salary from last season, which was $535,000. McNeill plans to hold out until the 10th week of the regular season, when he’d still be able to earn an accrued season of service, but if he does that, he’ll earn just $212,000. He does have some leverage here because the team doesn’t have a solid replacement for him. They signed veteran LT Tra Thomas (who turns 36 in November) as insurance, who was a backup for the Jaguars last season.
Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams
The veteran agent tag team of Tom Condon and Ben Dogra will handle Bradford’s negotiations. The duo did a great job of getting Matthew Stafford signed within 24 hours after the Lions selected him in 2009, inking him to a six-year deal with $41.7 million guaranteed.
It’s not known where the guaranteed money will fall in Bradford’s deal, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if the amount comes close to $50 million based on the position he plays. But any prolonged holdout could be detrimental to Bradford’s learning curve in the St. Louis offense. Personnel sources feel it takes time for a quarterback to learn the West Coast offense, one that’s totally different from what Bradford played in at Oklahoma.
Nick Mangold, C, New York Jets
The fifth-year interior offensive lineman is in the final year of his rookie contract. He’s expressed his desire for a new deal, but again because of the complexities of the CBA, the team’s taken a slower than ideal approach to his situation.
Mangold’s quickly become one of the best players at his position in the NFL. He’ll make $3.3 million in base salary this season, but he’ll likely be seeking a deal like Jason Brown received from the Rams last year. Brown, the No. 2 overall pick in 2009, signed a five-year, $37.5 million deal which includes $20 million guaranteed.
The other problem for Mangold is the team also has Revis up next for an extension. They got LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s deal done recently, but also have starting ILB David Harris to consider extending as well. He’s on the final year of his four-year rookie deal.
Mangold, however, did say Friday night that he would attend camp on time despite the contract dispute.
The veteran nose tackle’s yet to sign his one-year non-exclusive franchise tender worth $7.003 million. However, both sides can’t enter into an extension at this time because of the deadline to extend franchise player contracts was on July 15.
It’s hard to see Franklin holding out for a prolonged period of time, because once he signs the tender it becomes guaranteed. He’d likely seek to get the type of money Patriots NT Vince Wilfork signed for recently. Wilfork re-signed with New England for five seasons at $40 million with just over $24 million guaranteed ($18 million signing bonus).
A source said his base salaries are guaranteed for injury only in the first three years of the deal, but even if the 49ers were interested in signing Franklin to a new deal, it can’t happen until next year.
When he signed a six-year extension late in 2005 worth $41 million ($15 million guaranteed), the Giants gave Umenyiora a huge deal before he ended his third season of play. Back then, it was recognized as a huge contract, and he was at the top of his game. Since that time, the deal’s been surpassed by many veterans (see Dwight Freeney, Terrell Suggs and Julius Peppers to name a few).
So, Umenyiora feels underpaid, but because of injury issues and a perceived small decline in play, he clearly has no leverage in this situation. It won’t help his cause that he was demoted to the second-team last season. While he’s clearly not happy about his contract, all indications are that the classy player will show up to training camp on time.
Manny Lawson, OLB, San Francisco 49ers
The former 2006 first-round selection is in the final year of his rookie contract. Lawson’s base salary for this season is $625,000, so he’d like his deal to be extended. If a new CBA between the players and the NFL isn’t reached by the start of free agency this March, he’ll be a restricted free agent. Should there be a new CBA reached by then, he’ll likely be unrestricted, meaning he’ll be free to sign with any team.
So far, the team hasn’t expressed much, if any, interest in extending his contract, but he hasn’t made a big deal about it. Lawson’s coming off his best season as a pro after posting career-highs in sacks, tackles and games started. If he can follow up that performance with another solid season, he could make a pretty strong case for the team to extend his deal.