The sports betting world gets to hear rich athletes complain that they should be richer right around the same time that NFL training camps open up. Holding out to get a new contract is a tactic that NFL football players used to use on a regular basis to try and get their way. It is the NFL equivalent of holding your breath when you are a child to get more ice cream. In a culture where money equals respect, it is no wonder that players feel holding out is their only real negotiating tactic. The notion of honoring a contract goes out the window when players feel that they deserve more money.
In the days before the 2010’s, the concept of holding out used to be an effective way for players to get their point across. The bookmaker betting software would always put the odds against a team that did not have its star player in camp. The player would hold out from training camp, the team would be forced to renegotiate a contract that was probably signed just a year or two ago, the player gets more money, the ticket prices go up for the fans to accommodate that new contract and the star player winds up in camp. That is how it used to go. But the owners decided that enough is enough and have put an end to holdouts.
One of the provisions that has been in the last two collective bargaining agreements between the NFL owners and the players is a fine of $30,000 for every day that a player holds out of training camp. The bookies and the NFL players both scoffed at the provision because no one really expected the provision to apply to star players. But, as NFL fans have noticed, the number of holdouts has dropped dramatically in the past few years. It looks like the teams are enforcing the $30,000 a day hold out fine and the players now know it.
The most recent big name hold outs were Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew and Pittsburgh wide receiver Mike Wallace. Both players held out for pretty much all of training camp and racked up at least $900,000 each in fines. Both players came back to their teams without much fanfare and without new contracts. Some fans speculate that the teams are telling players that they will not be fined for their hold outs if they report to camp without a new contract. If that is true, then holding out just became another negotiating card for the owners and not the players.
NFL players used to be able to hold out from training camp and on into the regular season to get what they wanted. When the owners took the hold out away, players were forced to find new ways to get more money in their contracts. The players could choose to perform up to expectations and earn pay raises. More than likely, the disappearance of the hold out will mean that more players will be on the move when their free agency time arrives.