Let It Burn: Why This Is Not the Year To Hold Out

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Let It Burn: Why This Is Not the Year To Hold Out

They always say, "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, and that's why it is called the present."

In this case, they are the agents. And it can be said for four NFL players that their agents are currently playing a pretty risky game with their client’s futures. 

This isn’t a normal year for a player to be holding out. But the NFL has plans, the teams have plans, and Goodell’s got plans, you know. They're schemers. Schemers trying to control their little worlds.

Agents are not schemers. They try to show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are. 

At least that’s what the four holdouts are hearing. They’re hearing that they need to be telling a team that holding out is nothing personal, and their teams will believe it’s the truth. 

It's the schemers that put these players where they are. The players were once schemers. They had plans and, uh, look where that got them.

Agents do what they do best: They take a team's little plan and they turn it on itself. Look what they did with other teammates and previous holdouts? You know what they noticed? Nobody panics when things go "according to plan," even if the plan is horrifying. 

If tomorrow they tell the press that a mediocre wide receiver isn’t happy and wants a quiet release, or a past-his-prime backup linebacker wants a trade, nobody is going to panic. It's all a part of the plan. But when they say that one, little, old, Pro-Bowl offensive lineman or running back is holding out—well, then everyone loses their minds!

The NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) states that players under contract must report at least 30 days prior to the first regular-season game or else they lose an accrued season of seniority.

Who cares, right? Camps have started, there are 2,560 players in camp.

But for four guys, camp hasn't begun yet. Steven Jackson, Jason Peters, Ryan Grant, and Shawn Andrews are all holding out. They’re trying to introduce a little anarchy, upset the established order, and create chaos. 

Agents are actually agents of chaos. And you know the thing about chaos? They’ll tell their clients that chaos is fair.

The NFL season kicks off on Thursday, Sept. 4. Any player wanting their year of seniority must report by Aug. 8, or else the 2008 season will not count toward their free-agency eligibility.

While this probably won't be a complete deterrent for these four Pro Bowlers, losing an eligibility year with a CBA battle looming could have serious repercussions. 

For Jackson, Peters, and Andrews, they all would accrue their fifth year in the NFL this season. That's the minimum amount of seniority necessary to become an unrestricted free agent.

If the current collective-bargaining agreement is voided, as is being threatened by league owners, one of the side provisions is that players would need six years of seniority to be eligible for free agency following the 2009 season. 

If Jackson, Peters, or Andrews hold out beyond Aug. 8, they would have only five years' seniority after the '09 season, and thus, would be eligible only for restricted free agency, if they ever decide to play football again.

In this situation, their current teams would have matching rights on any outside offers for these players.

For Grant, the stakes aren't as high, as he was only a rookie last season. However, losing any year of eligibility for a running back is like burning money for fun. 

If anything, when the sun rises on Aug. 9, and the morning pads are put on for Saturday's early session, Scott Linehan, Dick Jauron, Mike McCarthy, and Andy Reid will be a little more comfortable.

The coaches are already making contingency plans in the scenario that these players may be gone. Maybe they might just pick up the phone to give the players a call to find out if they plan on coming in. 

I imagine that call going something like this:

Coach: Howdy sport! Just calling to check up on you. Don't know if you read the papers, but we've made a plan to work around you.

Player: No, coach. Just been talking to my agent. You guys going to pay up?

Coach: No, we're standing firm! I noticed you passed the eligibility date for seniority, so we get to keep your rights for a little longer. Good call, sport.

Player: (silence)

Coach: Why so serious?

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