Contract Negotiation NFL Players

NFL Holdouts

Drew Rosenhaus is a man known for holding his clients out from training camp and even into the regular season if he feels that the players he represents are not being paid for the value they are producing. The general public was brought into the realm of “holdout discussion” primarily through the discourse revolving around T.O.’s holdout from the Philadelphia Eagles this past year. But has the media framed the holdout issue in an unfair way? Do the teams end up looking like the victims of undervalued player holdouts while the players should be seen as the victims of teams always looking to cut overvalued players while under contract.

In the book, Next Man Up by John Feinstein, Mr. Feinstein is 100% correct in saying that there may be no more meaningless phrase in sports than “Joe Smith signed a seven-year contract today” with an NFL team. The signing bonus within the contract signed by a player is the only gauranteed money as no contracts are truly gauranteed in the NFL. If a player refuses to restructure his contract, he is often cut by the team sometime in the duration of his contract. Because NFL teams have such enormous power and often ruin people’s lives by deciding to end their professional career because of a refusal to be undervalued, are individual players wrong when they holdout in order to be fairly valued if they end up having the upper hand in a negotiation with their team?

Another good question is why does the media ignore the actions made by the team and sensationalize the bargaining power of few individual NFL players who decide to holdout in order to be properly valued?

How does it feel to win a Championship for a team who doesn't want to pay you?The most recent addition to the list of scrutinized holdouts is Deion Branch of the New England Patriots [Jerry Rice Slams Deion Branch’s Decision to Holdout]. He is upset with the amount of money he is being paid and the fact that the Patriots do not want to grant him a new multi-year contract. He is greatly undervalued by the team as he is still being paid based on his original worthless 5-year rookie contract.

Surprisingly, criticism has come from a former NFL player. Not surprisingly, it was still done on a major media outlet [Branch ripped]. The main problem I have with Jerry Rice’s statement is when he says:

Why are you going to hold out? You are still under contract. It makes no sense.

Maybe it does not make sense to Jerry Rice, an anomaly in the game of football. He was able to serve a very long career and was never threatened by the San Fransisco 49ers with a salary cut. But the NFL is not all peaches and cream. Instead of being ignorant and saying that it makes no sense, maybe Mr. Rice should look at the situation from another angle.

Is Branch right? Is Rice right? Are the Patriots right? Should the media change its focus?

[tags]nfl, holdout, deion branch, patriots, new england, jerry rice[/tags]

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

3 replies on “NFL Holdouts”

Branch is completely right. I’ve tried to make this argument for years. It makes no sense that billionaire owners can somehow complain about being the victims of players using the only leverage they have. Because the NFL owners will never agree to guaranteed contracts, I believe players should hold out MORE. The only argument I ever hear from the media is that the player signed the contract so he should honor it; however, as you noted, the NFL teams are under no such obligation nor expected to honor the contract. Hell maybe the NFL could just go to one year contracts with renogiations every year (it’d open up quite a few more jobs for us aspiring sports agents wouldn’t it 😉 ?)

[…] Enter Tom Condon and Ken Kremer of CAA and their cleint, 10th overall selection, Matt Leinart.  Leinart was getting a lot of bad publicity for holding out from training camp and being the final draftee to sign a contract.  As I have discussed before, the media often unfairly takes the side of the football team instead of the football player.  I believe that Leinart was telling the truth when stating that he wanted to be in camp all along…he was just protecting himself [Last man home: Leinart, Cards agree to six-year deal]. […]

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