Ranking the Most Notable NFL Minicamp Absences

Vincent Frank@VincentFrankNFLCorrespondent IJuly 5, 2012

Ranking the Most Notable NFL Minicamp Absences

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    It is a big deal when players hold out of minicamp, but it really isn't the end of the world. Unless that player is currently under contract, he isn't "required" to show up for the last dog and pony show of the offseason. Therefore, a lot of the talk about Drew Brees holding out isn't a really big deal.

    Does anyone really expect the future Hall of Fame quarterback to miss any time in 2012? I really don't.

    Now, when a player like Maurice Jones-Drew, who is under contract, is a no-show, then you do have to take notice.

    Either way, I am pretty sure that franchises around the National Football League would have loved to have their full complement of players show up for the final organized team activity prior to the start of training camp in about three weeks.

    Let's take a look at the most notable minicamp absences throughout the NFL.

7. Cliff Avril, Defensive End, Detroit Lions

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    The problem isn't what the standout pass-rusher is expected to earn in 2012, it is more about the fact that Cliff Avril wants a long-term contract and a lot more guaranteed money.  

    Avril, who did not attend minicamp, has stated the following last month.

    Yeah we’re talking," Avril said. "We’re still trying to get things figured out before camp. I want to be there long term. I want to get a deal done. I don’t want to play under the franchise tag.

    Let's compare Avril to another 4-3 defensive end, Trent Cole, for a second. The Philadelphia Eagles' pass-rusher signed a four-year, $53 million contract back in March.

    Common sense would tend to indicate this is the type of figure that Avril is looking at.


6. Mike Wallace, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    This could get a bit interesting.

    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported last month that Mike Wallace might not sign his restricted free agent tender prior to the start of training camp. Most players in his situation end up signing and reporting on time.

    That being said, most restricted free agents are not in the position of Wallace, who quickly became the Pittsburgh Steelers No. 1 receiver during the 2011 season.

    Wallace is set to earn about $2.7 million under that restricted tender, definitely not the value that the talented young receiver believes he is worth.

    For what it is worth, Adam Schefter over at ESPN believes that Wallace will sign the tender and be at the start of Steelers' training camp late this month.

    Either way, the Steelers are going to have to work out a long-term contract with Wallace. It just makes sense for the two to come to some sort of an agreement within the next few weeks.

    I just don't see it happening.

5. Darrelle Revis, Cornerback, New York Jets

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    Darrelle Revis is the best cornerback in the National Football League and it really isn't that close. The future Hall of Fame player possesses an uncanny ability to get to the ball and acts as a true shutdown cover-guy on one side of the field.

    The major issue here is that Revis is set to earn $7.5 million in 2012, which would make him the New York Jets' second highest paid defensive back behind fellow corner Antonio Cromartie. Okay, now I get it.

    Does that really make much sense to you?

    I also understand where the Jets are coming from. Revis signed his current contract less than two years ago. Him being so under-valued at this point is a direct correlation with his inability to negotiate the right price at the right time.

    It isn't like Revis is still playing under his rookie contract and earning less than fair market value.

    In the end, I don't think this is going to be an issue heading into the 2012 season.

    The Jets are not looking to renegotiate his contract and Revis will lose millions is he decides to hold out into the 2012 season. The power is all with the club right now.

4. Ray Rice, Running Back, Baltimore Ravens

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    Ray Rice has been one of the most productive running backs in the National Football League over the last few seasons, accumulating nearly 6,000 total combined yards since the start of the 2009 season.

    Under the franchise tender of $7.7 million Rice would become the third highest paid 'back in the league. This really isn't the issue. He is looking for a long-term contract with more guaranteed money.

    John Clayton over at ESPN believes that "of all the running backs, he (Rice) has the best chance of getting the $9 million-plus deal."

    It is hard to argue with that assessment. Rice is still only 25 years old and has a tremendous amount of tread left on those tires.

    Moreover, he is what makes the Ravens' offense go. The Ravens are 17-3 when Rice rushes the ball 20-plus times and 19-4 when he doesn't.

    That has to mean something to Ozzie Newsome and Co.





3. Matt Forte, Running Back, Chicago Bears

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    Matt Forte is set to get a raise of nearly $7 million from last season. So, what is he complaining about? After all, the talented running back would become the third highest paid player at that position if he signed the franchise tender.

    For Forte it is all about long-term commitment, respect and guaranteed money. Three things that the Chicago Bears have refused to show him over the duration of his short NFL career.

    Jason La Canfora over at CBS Sports characterizes long-term negotiations between the Bears and their franchise running back as follows.

    Talks to this point have been fruitless, and running back is a tricky position to negotiate. Their relative value has decreased in the game and the injury risk is significant. Forte seems resolved to play it out. Things can always change quickly in a negotiation, but everything to this point, and how long this situation has lingered even back to last season, wouldn't point to a quick solution now.

    This really shouldn't surprise people close to the negotiations. Adding more fuel to the fire is the fact that the Chicago Bears have spent a total of $16.5 million on Marion Barber and Michael Bush over the course of the last two offseasons. Meanwhile, they were paying Forte less than $1 million.

    Barber 2011 Contract

    Bush Contract

    Forte's 2011 Salary

    Think about that for a second. Barber was making nearly three times the amount of money as Forte in 2011.

    That's just plain idiocy.


2. Drew Brees, Quarterback, New Orleans Saints

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    A regular reader to Bleacher Report, Will Ficek, pointed out something really interesting as it relates to the Drew Brees situation in a recent comment on an article. 

    I do believe that there are other issues besides just the Saints that are motivating Drew Brees right now. He wants the NFL to do away with the franchise tag.

    This really hasn't been covered here on Bleacher Report, or any other mainstream sports site for that matter.

    Brees was one of the players association' lead dogs when it came to the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement strife. He does involve himself in the politics of the league, probably more so than any other franchise quarterback in the National Football League.

    Does this mean much? Probably not, as Brees will probably report to camp on time and sign that much-dreaded franchise tender of about $14.4 million.

    Then you have the news that broke on Tuesday that the New Orleans Saints cannot tag Brees again past the 2012 season, which indicates that he will be an unrestricted free agent.

    The leverage is all on the side of the quarterback, which leads me to believe that he will get a lofty long-term extension before the July 16 deadline.

1. Maurice Jones-Drew, Running Back, Jacksonville Jaguars

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     Maurice Jones-Drew is in the midst of a long-term contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. This means that his holdout from minicamp could end up costing the reigning NFL rushing leader some money. He will also be fined for every day of training camp that he misses.

    One could draw a simple conclusion that Jones-Drew isn't going to throw away money and will report to camp on time late this month.

    That being said, the situation isn't as clear-cut as that.

    Jones-Drew is set to earn less money than DeAngelo Williams and Reggie Bush, two players that he nearly eclipsed in terms of total yardage all by himself. That doesn't sound right, does it?

    At 27 years old, Jones-Drew only has one long-term contract left in the tank. It just makes sense for him to attempt to get that money right now despite the fact that he just signed this current contract a little over three years ago.

    Either way, expect Jones-Drew to report to camp on time.