Professional athletes are constantly trying to maintain their power, and they go about doing so in a variety of different ways. In the NFL, one of the most common ways to do so is refusing to show up until some sort of agreement is met.
Earl Thomas, Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, and Le’Veon Bell famously held out last season, causing Mack to be traded and given the deal he wanted, Donald to be given a huge contract, Thomas to sign a deal he was uneasy about, and Bell to sit out the entire season.
This year, it appears that Ezekiel Elliott is willing to follow in their footsteps in order to secure the deal he wants, but will he be alone?
Ezekiel Elliott’s story
Elliott has astounded during his first three seasons, rushing for over 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns during his young career. He has quickly become one of the biggest names in football, and he wants to have the salary to prove it. However, Jerry Jones is playing hardball with his young superstar. To fight this, Elliott is willing to hold out until he does.
Todd Gurley recently signed a four-year, $57M deal, and Elliott wants to make more. He certainly has the track record to justify his deal, but Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones is notoriously set in his ways. It will be interesting to see who budges first, and we could be in for a long battle if Elliott does not soon get his way.
Elliott isn’t the only player who is unhappy right now, though, and these players have or were close to doing the same.
Jadeveon Clowney may have $15.967M in guaranteed money, but what he does not have is a long-term commitment. He might be one of the best defenders in the NFL. But for whatever reason, the Texans are failing to appease him in a deal. Clowney is a three-time Pro bowler with 29 career sacks and 64 tackles, but he may not be a part of the team for a long time.
With his franchise tag, Clowney may lose leverage, and if there was a candidate for a holdout like Bell’s last year, it could be Clowney who is most likely to take that drastic measure. He is a valuable asset to the team’s defense, and they would miss out if the holdout happened. However, without much leverage, Clowney could have to cut his losses this year and show up.
Mike Thomas wants a new deal. Feeling like he is owed much more than the $1.148 million, the fact that he was not drafted in the first round has come back to haunt him. Thomas could have some leverage here. The team does need him, and his connection to Drew Brees means that he is an indispensable part of their offensive schemes.
Despite indicating that he would not hold out for training camp, something seems to have changed in Thomas’s mind. Perhaps it is to show the team just how valuable he is to that team.
Whatever the reasoning, it appears the Saints have locked Thomas down long-term. He reportedly reached a five year deal with the Saints with over $60 million in guaranteed money.
Situations like these three can go a variety of different ways. More often than not, the situations are corrected before the start of the season, but as we saw with Bell last year, nothing in this league is guaranteed.
Players like Russell Wilson have worked to give more power to the players, and if players start leveraging their talents, situations like Bell’s last year could become more common.