Absences Won’t Make Hearts Grow Fonder At NFL

NFL Getting Pumped For Upcoming Season First, let us remember that NFL contracts are essentially one-way streets. For most players, there’s not much (if any) guaranteed money and the...

NFL Getting Pumped For Upcoming Season

First, let us remember that NFL contracts are essentially one-way streets. For most players, there’s not much (if any) guaranteed money and the team can cut the player and owe nothing, no matter how many years and how many dollars remain on the contract.

Let’s also remember that the player signs the contract. Agrees to the terms, writes his name on it, accepts the paycheck.

And very quickly becomes unhappy.

As NFL training camps open, a lot of the focus is on the players not present or planning to be invisible instead of the ones who are ready to work.

• Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones does not plan to report to camp until the team addresses his contract, which has three years left on it as part of a five-year extension worth a bit more than $71 million.

• Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, unhappy with an $8.5 million salary in the final year of his deal, also plans to stay away unless the team ponies up or trades him.

• Oakland Raiders defensive end Kahlil Mack wants an extension of his deal, and that likely won’t happen by the time training camp opens Friday.

• Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, designated the team’s franchise player for the second consecutive season, will earn $14.54 million when he signs and shows up. That could be before the regular season starts, shortly after it starts or 10 weeks in so that he doesn’t lose a year of credited service toward his pension.

Who do we blame? Who cares? Players who sign long-term deals shouldn’t be surprised a year or two in when values leapfrog their existing contracts. That’s the way that the world goes round. Hard to get money now and extract more money later. But teams should be prepared to rewrite deals for players who outperform their contracts and often do. Of course, the fear is that the line to renegotiate would form at the chief finance officer’s desk and stretch back to the locker room.

So here’s a phrase that coaches around the league will be repeating until their recalcitrant stars become (in the famous words of John Riggins) bored, broke and back. And those words, in response to questions will be: “I’ll talk about players who are here. Any questions?”

Maybe a good question then would be: “Can you win without Jones/Thomas/Bell/Mack?”

 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman

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