For Some NFL Players, Proving Value To A Team Means Not Showing Up For Training Camp

The NFL is a one-way street when it comes to player contracts If the player fails to perform, he can be cut. The remaining time on his contract is...

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The NFL is a one-way street when it comes to player contracts

If the player fails to perform, he can be cut. The remaining time on his contract is not guaranteed. If he outperforms the numbers in his contract, he is expected to still live up to that deal. That’s what signing a contract is all about – even these one-way street pacts.

This is the fault of no one player. The collective bargaining process yields a standard player contract and the NFL never yields on fully guaranteeing them. A young player showing greatness might only be able to prove his true value to the team by not showing up.

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon wants a new deal. He comes off a season with 1,375 yards from scrimmage and 14 touchdowns in 12 games and he averaged 5.1 yards per carry. But the Chargers want Gordon to play out the final year of his rookie deal without an extension. So he plans to stay away from training camp.

The scenario is similar for Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys like the Chargers, seem to believe backs are relatively interchangeable and replaceable. Remember Elliott followed DeMarco Murray, who led the NFL in rushing in his fourth season (2014), left as a free agent and played only three more years. The Cowboys have been far better with Elliott than without him, though.

Just a year ago, running back Le’Veon Bell left a $14.5 million offer on the table and sat out the entire season. His replacement with the Pittsburgh Steelers, James Conner, made the Pro Bowl. Bell got paid in free agency by the New York Jets, but he will never make back the money he lost on principle.

Keep an eye on a couple of other likely holdouts as well: Washington Redskins Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams (whose issues may not be financial) and Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.

This trick works … sometimes. In 1993, running back Emmitt Smith held out for two games and the Cowboys lost them both, creating anger and panic in the locker room. Smith showed up when he got paid, led the league in rushing in just 14 games and the Cowboys won the Super Bowl.

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

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