As the calendar gets ready to flip to July, the 2014 NFL Draft class has just 4 players that have not signed their rookie contracts. Cornerback Justin Gilbert, the eighth overall pick from the Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Taylor Lewan from the Tennessee Titans that went eleventh in the first round, wide receiver Marqise Lee in the second round for the Jacksonville Jaguars and third round pick, offensive lineman Billy Turner of the Miami Dolphins. It is unlikely that any of them will get anywhere close to holding out, but it is not impossible.
Gilbert is the only one that has even hinted at the possibility of a holdout of the four. And it is not really clear if that is even what he was really doing. Gilbert basically said that he was not sure what the holdup was and simply acknowledged the possibility.
When it comes to first round picks, the issue seems to the almighty ‘offset language’. Essentially, players and especially agents want teams to make it so if the contract is voided for whatever reason, the player can collect the guaranteed money on the first contract as well as in the new contract. The team wants to say that if the guy is so bad they have to get rid of him, the new team can pay their contract and if any money is left over, the team that drafted him will make up the difference.
When it gets right down to it, the player’s agent and team are arguing over the worst case scenario. The player did not perform well because they were simply not good or they were injured and they are debating a few million potentially. From the player’s standpoint, it makes sense. The team’s quibbling over this feels like they are fighting the last war. Now, with significantly smaller contracts paid to rookies, they are already saving an incredible amount of money. Paying a million in offsets, should it come to that seems petty.
As for players like Lee and Turner, it may be a simple matter of just getting all of the parties in a room together to hammer out the details. The framework is set by the CBA, so they just have to get it done. The value of a potential holdout is virtually non-existent anymore, so it stands to reason that these deals are a matter of when and likely to be done long before camp gets going.