Sticky NFL Contract Situations Worth Watching This Offseason

Wes StueveContributor IIIJune 10, 2013

Sticky NFL Contract Situations Worth Watching This Offseason

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    At this time of year, contracts become a big issue. Players hold out, and teams struggle to reach new deals with their players. It's the NFL offseason.

    Nothing in the NFL creates quite the drama contracts do. Whether it's a franchise tag, an expiring contract or too little money, many players aren't happy with their deals, and they let it be known.

    This offseason, there are several contract situations worth watching. It's impossible to say how they will end up—there may not be any drama at all—but things could get interesting. 

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears

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    Jay Cutler's contract expires after the 2013 season. He has, however, expressed a willingness to play it out without a new deal in place.

    This attitude means there probably won't be much drama between Cutler and the Bears. For now.

    If Cutler does play out the season under his current contract, the situation could heat up. If Chicago uses the franchise tag on Cutler, he may threaten to hold out. Maybe there will be a Joe Flacco situation with Cutler.

    It's also possible, of course, that Cutler will play horribly and the Bears let him walk.

    Not like that wouldn't be exciting.

Branden Albert, OT, Kansas City Chiefs

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    During the offseason, Kansas City used the franchise tag on Branden Albert then tried to trade him. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, both Albert and the Chiefs want an extension, but making that happen could prove difficult. 

    If talks go poorly, Albert could end up holding out. With the No. 1 pick, Kansas City drafted an offensive tackle in Eric Fisher, so the team may not be desperate to work something out. This could lead to an unhappy Albert.

    Since both sides are willing, though, talks could go smoothly, leaving Albert with a new deal and both parties happy.

Anthony Spencer, DE, Dallas Cowboys

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    After using the franchise tag on Anthony Spencer the past two years, the Cowboys are now trying to work out an extension. According to Mike Fisher of Fox Sports Southwest, the talks aren't going so well.

    Though Spencer appears willing to play on the tag, this could complicate things. In order to gain more leverage, Spencer might hold out or at least threaten to.

    Spencer isn't new to the franchise tag, but he may be getting tired of it. If talks don't improve, this could get ugly.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants

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    Hakeem Nicks was absent from OTAs, though this is unrelated to his expiring contract, according to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports. It's impossible to say just how accurate that is, however.

    Still just 25 years old, Nicks is a terrific player and a huge part of New York's offense. In other words, it would be wise of the Giants to keep Nicks happy and on the field. 

    Beyond the absence from OTAs, there isn't any reason to suspect upcoming issues. Missing OTAs isn't a small deal, though, and head coach Tom Coughlin wasn't happy about it.

Michael Johnson, DE, Cincinnati Bengals

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    As of now, there is no reason to think this situation will turn sour. With the Bengals, though, anything is possible. 

    Michael Johnson broke out with a huge 11.5-sack season in 2012, and as a result, Cincinnati hit him with the franchise tag. Johnson signed his tender, and there haven't been rumors of unhappiness. If Johnson were planning on holding out, he probably wouldn't have done that.

    However, this could still be interesting to watch. The Bengals haven't extended a franchise tag recipient since 2005. It would be telling if the team did make a move to extend Johnson, and negotiations, or the lack thereof, might prove intriguing. 

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

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    Matt Ryan is entering the final year of his contract, and he seems to be the next quarterback in line to get a huge deal. The Falcons seem confident they can get something done before the season starts, but negotiations can turn in an instant.

    Ryan is the most important player on the Falcons, and the team surely wants to avoid the drama that the Saints faced with Drew Brees

    This will be fun to watch, if for no other reason than to see how much money Ryan gets. He will probably be in the same range as Joe Flacco, though many would argue the Atlanta star deserves more.