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Odell Beckham Jr: Does holding out work?

With Odell Beckham Jr. supposedly joining the list of NFL players to hold out on OTAs this year with a new contract in mind, we look at if this is a worthwhile tactic

While he may not have officially stated it, Odell Beckham Jr’s skipping of the OTAs is quite obviously down to his desire for a new deal. And he is far from the first player to use this tactic; this year alone others such as the Texans Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown, Jaguars offensive tackle Branden Albert, and Redskins running back Matt Jones amongst others have all been holding out on OTAs waiting for a new improved deal. 

This is far from a new tactic, notably last year first round pick Joey Bosa held out on signing his rookie deal with the Chargers until the end of August. A notoriously difficult team to deal with, the Chargers were accused of negotiating through the media and bad mouthing Bosa for not signing, despite offering him an initially sub-par contract. This is not unusual for the Chargers who, in 2010, didn’t get Vincent Jackson to sign until Week 10. 

These holdouts are contentious, with franchises accusing players both publicly and privately of being difficult to work with and accusing them essentially of being greedy, whereas the players are holding out for deals which they believe to be fair and in line with their standard of play and standing within the team.

Should teams be stricter?

Look, for example, at DeAndre Hopkins and the Texans. Last offseason he initially missed training camp as he tried to force the Texans into offering him a new deal. However, Houston being Houston, they have very strict rules on offering new deals to players who still have two years left on their contracts, as they typically will not enter discussions until they enter their final year (with the exception being JJ Watt). This is a risky tactic but with this rule set in stone he returned soon.

This is similar to AFC South rivals the Indianapolis Colts. Under the previous regime they waited until the contract had almost/just expired until they would even begin negotiations, as seen famously with Peyton Manning who didn’t receive a new contract until he had been franchise tagged in 2004, and again did not receive another new one until just before his had expired and they again would have had to franchise tag him.

Are the teams or players in the wrong?

This is where Beckham Jr. comes back into the frame. He is clearly one of the star players within the league, and indispensable to the Giants. The front office will be fully aware that if he decides to hold out on signing a new deal and refuses to stay beyond the franchise tag that every other NFL team would be clambering for his signature. Given his current performance level he could warrant anywhere between $13-$16 million base salary per season, or the most at his position. However, on his current rookie contract he is set to earn just $1.8 million in base this season, clearly far from his value. So naturally, his irritation with his contract is understandable.

It’s not just rookies

These responses go for experienced players who wish to renegotiate existing veteran contracts as well. In a very widely documented case, look back to last offseason and Ryan Fitzpatrick. His widely publicized stand off with the Jets came down to him wanting a longer term deal after a strong season as their starter, where as given his age and patchy form in the past they were not willing to take a long term gamble on a perennial backup. 

Or to take a current example, as mentioned earlier Duane Brown is entering the penultimate year of his existing contract. He is set to receive $9.65 million in base salary which is decent for a player of his age (31), however this is not a guaranteed sum. This is where his stand off comes from, and for a firm starter on offense, this is understandable. 

Do these ultimately work?

Looking at previous examples the results suggest there is no guarantee that Beckham Jr. will get a phone call with a new contract offer any time soon. The more impressive, important, and well-known the player, whether it’s a rookie or a veteran, the more effective their hold out will be. Take Fitzpatrick for example. While he did not receive the longer contract he wanted. They did end up offering him a one year deal with more money guaranteed ($12 million guaranteed). 

However, this is still no guarantee. Hopkins’ stand off completely backfired as he ended up returning to training camp with no new contract, and a year on the franchise have only just agreed to begin negotiations – in the last season of his rookie contract, exactly when the team have always stated they will wait for.

On the whole though it has to be said that such strict rules surrounding negotiations like those of Houston and Indy are somewhat unusual. Therefore, given Beckham’s star power both as a player and a figure head for the Giants – expect Beckham to get his contract soon.

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Anthony Reinier Wood

Thanks for viewing my profile! I've been a writer with RealSport since October 2016, focusing primarily on the NFL, and occasionally Football (Or soccer for any Americans among you). I love hearing feedback and your opinions so feel free to comment, contact me via email, or follow me on Twitter and Facebook!

Odell Beckham Jr: Does holding out work?

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