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Paul Domowitch | NFL veterans could hold out in large numbers

by Paul Domowitch

ONCE UPON A time, training-camp holdouts by NFL veterans were as common as jock itch. But the advent of free agency changed that. So did the harsh financial penalties a team could levy on a player if he played hooky from camp.

But revisions in last year's collective bargaining agreement, which dramatically reduced the financial consequences of a holdout, combined with some of the ludicrous free-agent contracts that were handed out this offseason, could trigger a rash of veteran holdouts this summer.

"You're going to see an upsurge in holdouts of players under contract," Eagles president Joe Banner said. "I think [it will be] dramatic. And it's mainly because of the gutting of the signing-bonus language."

Previously, a club was able to write language into a player's contract that allowed it to recover the remaining portion of the player's signing bonus if he held out or failed in any way to honor his contract.

But the amendments that were added to last year's CBA extension changed that. Now, if a player holds out, a team can only reclaim 25 percent of the prorated portion of the signing bonus amount for 1 year.

In other words, if a player signed a 5-year contract that included a $10 million signing bonus, a team only can take back $500,000.

"It used to be that if you didn't honor your contract, there were very severe consequences," Banner said. "That doesn't exist anymore.

"Until now, holdouts for players under contract have been like here. There's been a modest number, but it hasn't been dramatic. But I think you're going to see a significant increase in them this year. Next year, even more. I think it's going to be a massive distraction."

Longtime agent Jerrold Colton, whose clients include Eagles kicker David Akers and Cowboys cornerback Anthony Henry, thinks the potential for an increase in veteran holdouts certainly is there.

"The [CBA] changes really limit what teams can go after for holdouts," he said. "There's less risk and less to lose for a player now. This has somewhat opened the door for [holdouts] to rise again."

At this point, the Eagles, who open training camp on July 27, don't appear to have any veteran players who are considering a holdout.

Around the league

-- Indianapolis appears to have a slight lead over Dallas in the bidding for the 2011 Super Bowl. The league's owners will select the site for the '11 game at its spring meeting in Nashville on May 22. Indy, Dallas and Phoenix are the three finalists, but a league insider said Phoenix, which will host this season's championship game, is running a distant third. Indianapolis, whose new stadium will open in 2008, is believed to have the support of many of the owners of the league's midmarket teams. There also is an anti-Jerry Jones faction in the league that would rather play the game in Saskatchewan than see the Cowboys' owner get it. Jones has pointed out to his fellow owners that former commissioner Paul Tagliabue promised the '11 Super Bowl to Arlington (the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb where the Cowboys' stadium is being built) if the city helped fund a stadium.

-- Eagles draft pick Kevin Kolb made an interesting choice when it came time to selecting an agent. He's represented by Jeff Nalley, of Select Sports Group in Houston. If the name doesn't ring a bell, Nalley was the agent who took former Penn State running back Curtis Enis on a $1,100 shopping spree in 1997 when he still was playing for the Nittany Lions. Enis, then a junior, was booted off the team by coach Joe Paterno and later entered the draft, where he was taken in the first round by the Bears. Nalley was suspended by the players association for 2 years for the infraction and fined $15,000.

-- The Giants, who badly need a left tackle to protect Eli Manning's blindside, talked to Cleveland before the draft about its starting left tackle, Kevin Shaffer. But the two sides couldn't work out a deal. The Browns signed Shaffer away from the Falcons in '06 and gave him $12 million in signing and option bonuses. But he was a bust last season. If he sticks around, it won't be at left tackle, where the Browns already have plugged in first-round pick Joe Thomas. The Giants are expected to take another run at Shaffer before they open training camp.

-- Even if the Eagles aren't able to sign tight end L.J. Smith to a new contract between now and next February, that doesn't mean he won't be playing for them next season. The team always can use the franchise tag on Smith. The '07 franchise number for a tight end is just $4.371 million. The only position with a lower franchise number is punter/kicker ($2.078 million). Would they be willing to pay Smith $4.37 million next year if they weren't able to re-sign him and really wanted to hang on to him? Well, they're paying 32-year-old left tackle William Thomas $4.55 million this season even though they drafted his potential replacement (Winston Justice) last year.

-- Randy Brown, a former assistant special-teams coach with the Eagles, is off to an impressive start in his political career. He was elected mayor of Evesham Township (Marlton), N.J., earlier this week. Brown beat a four-term incumbent.

-- Thanks to commissioner Roger Goodell, the days of NFL head coaches muzzling their assistants finally are over. Goodell is the impetus behind the league's new media-access policy, which was released this week. One of the revisions: teams must provide "regular and reasonable access" to assistant coaches for interviews. At Goodell's behest, the league also has changed the procedure for reporting and updating injuries. Coaches like the Patriots' Bill Belichick have made a mockery of the league's weekly in-season injury report. Now, instead of listing the status of injured players (probable, questionable, doubtful, out) during the week, teams must detail the extent of practice participation (did not participate, limited participation, full participation) of all injured players. Then, on the Friday before a game, each injured player must be given an injury designation. Any team that does not adhere to the new media-access guidelines will be subject to disciplinary action by Goodell.

-- The Raiders finally got around to firing senior personnel executive Mike Lombardi this week. There have been reports that NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock is being considered for the job. But Mayock said there's nothing to it. "Al Davis had expressed an interest in me a year ago," Mayock said. "At that point, I told him the timing was not good for me and kind of backed out of it early. So I don't know what [the job] could have been or couldn't have been. Why it's surfacing now I have no idea." Mayock, who lives in Newtown Square, is a single dad with full custody of his two children. His daughter is a college freshman and his son is a high school sophomore. -- Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio, who isn't one of quarterback Byron Leftwich's biggest boosters, wanted to take Brady Quinn with the team's first-round draft pick, according to a source. But vice president of player personnel James Harris, who makes the final call on personnel decisions, decided to take safety Reggie Nelson instead. Leftwich has missed 15 of the last 21 regular-season games with injuries and is entering the last year of his cont

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Any pro athletes who holds out for more money should be arrested, beaten, and thrown in jail. Then forced to work for a dollar a day and a cup of white rice. I think these babies holding out will see things differently. They'll actually finally believe that getting paid 3 million dollars to play ball is a pretty good freaking deal.

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I've liked his approach to player suspensions. I'm not sure how I feel about the coaches access to the media. He is trying to get more teams to open up which I feel is a disadvantage preparing for a game.

Only if your assistants are dumb. Did the enforced interviews provided by Belly, Parcelss and Mangini ever hinder the game plan? Not every coach is a Herm.

Any pro athletes who holds out for more money should be arrested, beaten, and thrown in jail. Then forced to work for a dollar a day and a cup of white rice. I think these babies holding out will see things differently. They'll actually finally believe that getting paid 3 million dollars to play ball is a pretty good freaking deal.

You sir, are another tool of the man. The owners are making money hand over fist and instituting an artificial salary cap because they are too stupid to control spending. Yet you have a problem with players in one of the most dangerous sports where contracts are NEVER guaranteed fighting to get their true value. Better the money go into the owners' pockets. You think it's a good deal? Check the stats on the life expectancy of pro football players compared to the general public.

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i don't have a problem with holdouts-- but once you do, the team should have the option of tearing up your contract and recoup any and all payments that haven't yet been earned. refusal to perform is a material breach. if you're one year into a five year deal, the team should be able to get back 4/5ths of your signing bonus and stop paying you. a contract isn't a prison sentence-- if someone doesn't want to perform, we can't make them but the team shouldn't have to pay them for that non-performance, either. the signing bonus is the player's protection against injury, forced retirement or the team renegging and cutting you-- being able to recoup the portion you haven't earned should be the team's protection against you holding out.

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Only if your assistants are dumb. Did the enforced interviews provided by Belly, Parcelss and Mangini ever hinder the game plan? Not every coach is a Herm.

You sir, are another tool of the man. The owners are making money hand over fist and instituting an artificial salary cap because they are too stupid to control spending. Yet you have a problem with players in one of the most dangerous sports where contracts are NEVER guaranteed fighting to get their true value. Better the money go into the owners' pockets. You think it's a good deal? Check the stats on the life expectancy of pro football players compared to the general public.

....then choose another profession. There's danger in many professions that pay a lousy 35K per year and people do it. These overgrown spoiled brats are getting paid MILLIONS to PLAY BALL. A player on the lower end of the NFL pay scale can retire by the age of 30, with smart financial planning....let alone the multi-million dollar contracts. How many NFL players die or get permanently injured per year? The owners have invested hundreds of billions and they are at financial risk too. The owners have the right to make as much as they can. they're the OWENERS. Good for them. The players are the worker bees. If they don't like it, then get OUT. They're replaceable. There's nothing worse than a whining employee. BWAHHH BWAHHHH!!!!!! Away with them....

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i don't have a problem with holdouts-- but once you do, the team should have the option of tearing up your contract and recoup any and all payments that haven't yet been earned. refusal to perform is a material breach. if you're one year into a five year deal, the team should be able to get back 4/5ths of your signing bonus and stop paying you. a contract isn't a prison sentence-- if someone doesn't want to perform, we can't make them but the team shouldn't have to pay them for that non-performance, either. the signing bonus is the player's protection against injury, forced retirement or the team renegging and cutting you-- being able to recoup the portion you haven't earned should be the team's protection against you holding out.

That's not bad. I'm kind of against holdouts, except for the forced contracts, like the rookie deals and the fact that the salary cap causes inequities like Kendall's current contract compared to Steinbach. Still, not a bad way to deal with the holdout. I daresay that it would make NO difference because very few players that hold out are ever going to get cut outright. The real problem with it is that teams would manipulate it to lower their cap figures.

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That's not bad. I'm kind of against holdouts, except for the forced contracts, like the rookie deals and the fact that the salary cap causes inequities like Kendall's current contract compared to Steinbach. Still, not a bad way to deal with the holdout. I daresay that it would make NO difference because very few players that hold out are ever going to get cut outright. The real problem with it is that teams would manipulate it to lower their cap figures.

i blame kendall's agent. work in a clause that your guy's contract is increased proportional to any salary cap increases. teams would agree to this provision for guys who are worth it to them. problem solved.

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....then choose another profession. There's danger in many professions that pay a lousy 35K per year and people do it. These overgrown spoiled brats are getting paid MILLIONS to PLAY BALL. A player on the lower end of the NFL pay scale can retire by the age of 30, with smart financial planning....let alone the multi-million dollar contracts. How many NFL players die or get permanently injured per year? The owners have invested hundreds of billions and they are at financial risk too. The owners have the right to make as much as they can. they're the OWENERS. Good for them. The players are the worker bees. If they don't like it, then get OUT. They're replaceable. There's nothing worse than a whining employee. BWAHHH BWAHHHH!!!!!! Away with them....

So that some rich douchebag can make millions by doing nothing based on their sweat and toil? Maybe if it weren't a monopoly the players would have a chance to earn their value, but they are creating billions of dollars in commerce each year for a limited amount of money. Who has more to do with the money that the Pats generate-Brady or Kraft? If you want to bitch about investment (which much of the time is heavily subsidized by the public) then maybe you believe in the free market. If you do then you have a problem with the current NFL system cause it's about as far from a free market as you can get.

Football players cannot "retire by the age of 30" The majority will have careers less than 3 years long. For every Brett Favre pondering his retirement date, there are probably 10,000 guys who are forced to retire by the age of 25 due to injury. How many NFL players are permanently injured every year? Check the IR list-those aren't scratches.

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i blame kendall's agent. work in a clause that your guy's contract is increased proportional to any salary cap increases. teams would agree to this provision for guys who are worth it to them. problem solved.

I don't think it's that simple. The explosion in contracts is not in direct proportion to the cap increase. Basically, owners spend like idiots if there is the opportunity (cap space) so this year guys are overpaid, while in the past guys were underpaid because of a lack of space. It's very difficult to determine the actual market value because there is no free/open market. Besides, who needs the clause? You can always holdout. ;)

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So that some rich douchebag can make millions by doing nothing based on their sweat and toil? Maybe if it weren't a monopoly the players would have a chance to earn their value, but they are creating billions of dollars in commerce each year for a limited amount of money. Who has more to do with the money that the Pats generate-Brady or Kraft? If you want to bitch about investment (which much of the time is heavily subsidized by the public) then maybe you believe in the free market. If you do then you have a problem with the current NFL system cause it's about as far from a free market as you can get.

Football players cannot "retire by the age of 30" The majority will have careers less than 3 years long. For every Brett Favre pondering his retirement date, there are probably 10,000 guys who are forced to retire by the age of 25 due to injury. How many NFL players are permanently injured every year? Check the IR list-those aren't scratches.

What do folks get working in a factory making widgets for GE???? They don't make jack! Without the widget makers then GE wouldn't make a dime. So should the factory workers be making $450,000 per year?? No.

The players in the NFL are simply employees who are being paid very handsomely. Not all employees have the right to participate in their employers profits. That's not a right, it's a priviledge and it's up to the owner. If the players don't like it, then stop buying 2 million bracelets, 14 cars, and 20,000 sf homes. Save their money and buy into a pro sports team themselves. Let them take the financial risk and then they can participate in all their profits. They're a bunch of whiners who are spoiled beyond spoiled. Sooner or later an owner is going to grow some cajunes and tell all his players to screw off and bring in a bunch of nobodys that will play for league minimum. It will be a short term setback but in the long run will be the right decision. I hate whining babies who have no right to whine. OMG, I CAN'T FEED MY FAMILY ON 6 MILLION!!!!!! AHHHH!!!!!

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Football players cannot "retire by the age of 30" The majority will have careers less than 3 years long. For every Brett Favre pondering his retirement date, there are probably 10,000 guys who are forced to retire by the age of 25 due to injury. How many NFL players are permanently injured every year? Check the IR list-those aren't scratches.

That's why they go to COLLEGE!!!!!!!!

Oh poor babies, they got their bachelors and just made league minimum for 3 years making over $1,000,000, at worse. Ohhh, that's just terrible. That poor little boy. Awwwww....

no mercy for these knuckleheads. None

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If the players don't make the money, than the owners would. There is a ton of money in this league, it has to go somewhere...and there is no reason to drop ticket prices if people are willing to pay.

What do you suggest, we pay owners like Snyder more? Let the players get some money, who cares.

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What do folks get working in a factory making widgets for GE???? They don't make jack! Without the widget makers then GE wouldn't make a dime. So should the factory workers be making $450,000 per year?? No.

The players in the NFL are simply employees who are being paid very handsomely. Not all employees have the right to participate in their employers profits. That's not a right, it's a priviledge and it's up to the owner. If the players don't like it, then stop buying 2 million bracelets, 14 cars, and 20,000 sf homes. Save their money and buy into a pro sports team themselves. Let them take the financial risk and then they can participate in all their profits. They're a bunch of whiners who are spoiled beyond spoiled. Sooner or later an owner is going to grow some cajunes and tell all his players to screw off and bring in a bunch of nobodys that will play for league minimum. It will be a short term setback but in the long run will be the right decision. I hate whining babies who have no right to whine. OMG, I CAN'T FEED MY FAMILY ON 6 MILLION!!!!!! AHHHH!!!!!

You really don't get it. I don't have a problem with the owners making money. I have a problem with the owners having what should be an illegal monopoly and artificially keeping salaries down via the salary cap and forced rookie scale. If it were a free market where players could go and sign wherever they want for as much as they could get than I would agree that players should be forced to honor their contracts. Don't forget that none of these contracts are guaranteed, so the owners don't have to "honor" them either. If the owners don't like the contract, they just cut the player.

As for your Sprewell argument-"can't feed my family on $6M" it's a stupid statement but has some validity. Of course they can feed their families, but many of these players are dealing with a limited career where they have to make enough money to set up their whole family and everyone that comes after. They are not Hiltons that can pass their moneymakers down, they have 5-7 years to set up their entire family.

You'd rather watch a bunch of nobodies? The NFL tried that-I'm sure you saw it as an unqualified success. I guess you really do just root for the hat.

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I don't think it's that simple. The explosion in contracts is not in direct proportion to the cap increase. Basically, owners spend like idiots if there is the opportunity (cap space) so this year guys are overpaid, while in the past guys were underpaid because of a lack of space. It's very difficult to determine the actual market value because there is no free/open market. Besides, who needs the clause? You can always holdout. ;)

the point of a contract is to protect your interests and to anticipate the future and define the parties' relationships going forward. any agent who didn't anticipate a salary cap increase is a moron. contracts for raw materials, cars, everything have built in provisions for inflation, fuel costs, exchange rates, wars, everything. that's why you need a lawyer AND an agent. give me a call pete!

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You really don't get it. I don't have a problem with the owners making money. I have a problem with the owners having what should be an illegal monopoly and artificially keeping salaries down via the salary cap and forced rookie scale. If it were a free market where players could go and sign wherever they want for as much as they could get than I would agree that players should be forced to honor their contracts. Don't forget that none of these contracts are guaranteed, so the owners don't have to "honor" them either. If the owners don't like the contract, they just cut the player.

As for your Sprewell argument-"can't feed my family on $6M" it's a stupid statement but has some validity. Of course they can feed their families, but many of these players are dealing with a limited career where they have to make enough money to set up their whole family and everyone that comes after. They are not Hiltons that can pass their moneymakers down, they have 5-7 years to set up their entire family.

You'd rather watch a bunch of nobodies? The NFL tried that-I'm sure you saw it as an unqualified success. I guess you really do just root for the hat.

If the owners can create a monopoly then good for them. They earned it. We disagree. I think I'm right and you think you're right. In fact, most would disagree with me but that's fine. Screw the players and god bless the owners. OWNER OWNER OWNER > employee

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If the owners can create a monopoly then good for them. They earned it. We disagree. I think I'm right and you think you're right. In fact, most would disagree with me but that's fine. Screw the players and god bless the owners. OWNER OWNER OWNER > employee

I can agree to disagree. Especially with a Dolphins fan. There are supposed to be anti-trust laws though.

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That's why they go to COLLEGE!!!!!!!!

Oh poor babies, they got their bachelors and just made league minimum for 3 years making over $1,000,000, at worse. Ohhh, that's just terrible. That poor little boy. Awwwww....

no mercy for these knuckleheads. None

Actually, they go to college to play for free (unless they can get some tiny bit of under the table cash) to perpetuate another whole crooked scheme. D1 football is also based on exploiting athletes to make money. Players have to go because otherwise they can't get paid. It's so nice of the schools to provide an education. A public service too. Everybody knows that what the world needs is more illiterate people majoring in kinesiology.

NFL has a special exemption from Congress.

I know. The question is why? Do they actually deserve it? Especially after the ****ed over the USFL.

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i don't have a problem with holdouts-- but once you do, the team should have the option of tearing up your contract and recoup any and all payments that haven't yet been earned. refusal to perform is a material breach. if you're one year into a five year deal, the team should be able to get back 4/5ths of your signing bonus and stop paying you. a contract isn't a prison sentence-- if someone doesn't want to perform, we can't make them but the team shouldn't have to pay them for that non-performance, either. the signing bonus is the player's protection against injury, forced retirement or the team renegging and cutting you-- being able to recoup the portion you haven't earned should be the team's protection against you holding out.

fantastic idea

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While I don't like how some teams handle their players (I always believed it is good for buisness to reward good performance); I find holdouts contemptable. These greedy bastard have no problem signing these contracts and taking the money, but as soon as they see an opertunity to get more they go on holdouts? When did you last see them give anything back when they are overpaid or simply suck?

If you sign a contract (good or bad), live with it. Be a man and suck it up. That's how the rest of the world works.

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While I don't like how some teams handle their players (I always believed it is good for buisness to reward good performance); I find holdouts contemptable. These greedy bastard have no problem signing these contracts and taking the money, but as soon as they see an opertunity to get more they go on holdouts? When did you last see them give anything back when they are overpaid or simply suck?

If you sign a contract (good or bad), live with it. Be a man and suck it up. That's how the rest of the world works.

As I've said ad nauseum, the NFL is not the "rest of the world." They have a special exemption from Congress.

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