NFL Rookies Need to Stop Holding out for Massive Contracts

Dan ParzychSenior Writer IAugust 4, 2009

SANTA CLARA, CA - MAY 01:  Michael Crabtree #15 of the San Francisco 49ers looks on at practice during the 49ers Minicamp at their training facilities on May 1, 2009 in Santa Clara, California. Crabtree was the 49ers first round draft pick.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Three years ago, former University of Southern California teammates RB Reggie Bush and QB Matt Leinart were selected in the 2006 NFL Draft. The two former USC standouts had high expectations for their NFL careers and looked to make an immediate impact on their new teams.

In 2006, the New Orleans Saints used the No. 2 pick to draft Bush after winning the Heisman Trophy his final season at USC, all while rushing for 2,648 yards and 22 touchdowns. He was aware of his potential in the NFL, knowing he would land a massive contract with the Saints.

After a short holdout that contained numerous negotiations with Bush and his agent, he eventually reached a six-year deal that had the potential to be worth up to $62 million—with $26.3 million guaranteed.

Was the holdout and massive contract worth it for the Saints to sign Bush? Statistically, no.

In his first three seasons with the Saints, he has rushed for 1,550 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also hauled in 213 receptions for 1,599 yards and eight touchdowns. Bush may have thought he was worth the hefty contract, but he has not shown his apparent "value" in his first three seasons. This year could determine if he will be labeled as a "bust" in the NFL.

The same case can be made for Leinart, Bush's former USC teammate, whose holdout lasted for two weeks before signing a six-year deal with the potential value worth $50.8 million—$14 million guaranteed.

Leinart's reasoning for a holdout was a little different than Bush's, simply because he was arguably supposed to be the No. 1 selection in the draft the year before. Instead, he returned for another season with the Trojans and the once potential No. 1 pick dropped down to No. 10 in 2006 when the Arizona Cardinals selected him.

In his first three seasons in the NFL, Leinart has only played in 14 games, throwing for 3,458 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions. The argument can be made that he missed most of the 2007 due to a fractured collarbone, but he was also replaced by Kurt Warner last season as the starting quarterback for the Cardinals, who ended up leading the team to their first Super Bowl in franchise history.

Warner will most likely start again this upcoming season, as he signed a two-year deal worth $23 million and a $15 million signing bonus, which would leave Leinart as the No. 2 quarterback again.

What's bugging me this week? NFL rookies decide to holdout during offseason programs until they get the massive contracts they feel they deserve.

Having your name called by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell during the NFL Draft has to be one of the best feelings in the world. When a player's name is announced, he gets the opportunity to show off his talent and make millions for playing the game of football.

By being selected in the first round, some players will sign an eight-figure deal while others will sign a seven-figure deal. Either way, a player receives a hefty salary for their first year out of college (compared to the $40,000 most recent graduates would be lucky to have offered).

Over the last couple of seasons, there have been numerous rookies who have refused to attend training camp until they receive the "contract deal they are worthy of."  Why do players act selfishly and holdout for more money before even taking a snap in a regular season game?

Bush and Leinart are two examples of players in the NFL that held out until they got the massive contract they felt was deserved. In both cases, both players have yet to live up to their salary.

The 2009 draft class has already seen its fair share of players who believe they are worthy of a massive contract and have been holding out until they receive the type of deal they want.

WRs Percy Harvin, Michael Crabtree, and Jeremy Maclin are all players from this year's draft class who were holding out until they received their desired contract.

Harvin, the 22nd selection in this year's draft out of Florida, recently ended his holdout with the Vikings, signing a five-year deal worth around $14.5 million. A similar case was made for Maclin, who just signed a five-year deal with the Eagles worth around $15.5 million. Two more examples of two more rookies holding out until they get their "contracts they deserve."

Don't get me wrong; both players may end up being worth every penny the Vikings and Eagles are willing to spend over the next couple of seasons. However, they have yet to play in a regular season game.

Crabtree, on the other hand, has yet to sign a contract with the 49ers, as they started training camp a few days ago. It is unknown what the Niners have offered him, but Oakland Raiders WR Darrius Heyward-Bey signed a $38.25 million deal, and was selected three picks ahead of Crabtree in the draft at No. 7.

None of these players have taken a single snap in regular season game. However, they all feel the need to holdout from signing a contract until the money they feel is deserved is offered.

If you ask me, no rookie should holdout for a ridiculous amount of money. If they can prove their worth to their new teams in their first couple of seasons, then the big money should come then. Otherwise, teams will continue to risk wasting away money on players who have yet to live up to their hype.

If you do not believe me, just ask the Saints and Cardinals how they are feeling about their top picks from the 2006 NFL Draft.


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Dan Parzych covers the Eagles for and is a columnist at

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