There is a great history of players holding out of training camp for a new contract, thinking they are going to force their team to work out a few extra dollars in their new contract. This is also a practice some early first round draft picks use to get a little extra out of their first NFL contract.
One recent example is Chris Johnson with the Tennessee Titans, holding out of camp in 2011. The problem was he still had two years on his contract including the 2011 season. Chris Johnson missed all of training camp and the first three pre-season games before reaching a mega deal contract at the value of $53.5 million with $30 million of that guaranteed. This contract ends in 2016. This is a big issue because in 2009 he reached the 2,000 yard mark following it up in 2010 with 1,300 yards. After holding out and missing training camp in 2011, his stats didn’t plummet majorly, but he did not get anywhere near the totals that he had the previous two seasons. His season also started off very slow, most of last seasons yards came at the second half of the season. How would his 2011 season have turned out if he had shown up to camp and had himself physically and mentally ready to play the game?
So far this offseason there is one running back holding out with contract issues (among others not mentioned). He has two seasons left on his contract. This is Maurice Jones-Drew. So far he has held out of voluntary and mandatory mini camps. We will have to wait and see if he shows up to training camp.
Also in the 2009 NFL draft, one top tier wide receiver in the name of Michael Crabtree (drafted by the 49ers) took this practice a bit further missing half the season his rookie year. He was within the top three wide receivers in that draft. He played for Texas Tech and amassed some amazing stats as wide receiver on that college team. He was willing to sit out the entire season to get paid. He set the record for the longest draft pick to sit out for a contract. On October 7, 2009 the team and player came together and agreed on a contract in the value of $32 million with $17 million guaranteed. He finally had somewhat of a breakout season in 2011. Still has a few steps to take in his career, but his contract can be voided in the fifth year. That’s in two years…
I am hoping Chris Johnson makes a great return to the prolific running back he was before his holdout, but Michael Crabtree’s story is a little different in the matter of the team he played for (the 49ers). His first two years with his team, they did not fair well as a team. This last season they were one win away from the Super bowl and in this upcoming season with the defense completely in tact, the offense majorly upgraded with Randy Moss who seems to be at the top of his game in this offseason (along with Mario Manningham from the Giants, who eliminated the 49ers from the Super bowl last year with an amazing catch for a touchdown), and the coaching staff in tact also. The 49ers have a great counter to the offseason holdout practice with Crabtree. If he does not take his stats up a level and make improvements, a holdout just won’t work.
If you want a new contract, you need to show up and prove why you deserve that contract. When you show up and work hard, proving you are part of the team, you will be rewarded.