NFL teams donned pads for the first time in an attempt to start a crash course on timing,
semi-contact and actual 11 on 11 football. We might see shoulder pads, we might hear
some limited cracking with the big boys upfront but what we will see very little of is full
speed tackling to the ground, 9 on 7 run game drills or goal line scrimmaging. I guess we
will take what we can get. Even though the biggest topic being discussed are injuries (what
else is new), most of us still have smiles on our faces. It’s a start.
Having said that, one thing that jumped out to me, a former GM in the league, after two
days of team practices, is the 2020 version of players withholding services. Said another
way, it’s a “hold in”. Players show up, report for duty, and then either have a mystery injury
or refuse to practice.
For my entire career, the chosen route for a player who wanted a new contract was to “hold
out” and basically not come to camp until he either got his wish or demanded and was given
a trade. Not anymore. The collective bargaining agreements of the last 15 years have totally
rendered that action ineffective and financially irresponsible for the player. Penalties of
fines, tolling contracts and losing service time towards free agency have all been built into
the current CBA so that holdouts just don’t happen. Sure, you still get an occasional
Le’Veon Bell (who stayed out a whole season), but the money that he gave away just
confirmed our thoughts on why holding out makes zero sense.
Los Angeles Chargers pass rusher Melvin Ingram and Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook and are in camp but are having varying degrees of issues. I have to give my colleague,
ESPN’s Mike Tannenbaum (a former GM himself), credit for coining the term “hold in”, butonly if the shoe fits? Let’s dive in and look at each situation and then you can tell me how
they should be handled.
Chargers OLB is in camp, healthy and choosing not to participate. How the Chargers handle this sets precedent and will come up again with others in the future, bank on it. His teammate, Joey Bosa just signed a five-year extension worth, by most accounts, in the $135 million neighborhood. Ingram is entering year nine of his career. He has 49 career sacks (that’s 5.4 sacks per year), is 31 years old (six years older than Bosa) and has one year left on a deal he signed three years ago. GM Tom Telesco has a history, until recently, of not signing or bringing in as replacements players over 30 years old. Ingram is coming off three straight NFL Pro Bowls but when does the smart money start to get questioned? Age 33 or 34? Will the Chargers play hardball and force Melvin to play out his contract or will they give in and sign him to an extension? I have not heard or read any comments from the Chargers front office.
Has made it clear as well that he wants to be paid. Apparently, the Vikings decision makers are OK with him getting less work so far in training camp. I’m not sure if they are truly talking about a contract extension or not. It depends on who you listen to. Cook has had one above average year, one average and one below average season so what is the best indicator of future results? History, of course. I do know this. Cook has been injury prone, he has another year left on his 2nd round deal he signed as a rookie and the Vikings drafted another RB in Round 3 in the 2019 draft. I can’t see the Vikings breaking the bank to pay Cook. If his expectations are “that” then this will get ugly before it gets better. In the meantime, Alexander Mattison from Boise State gets all the reps and just might show how good he is. There are two sides to every angle of this “hold in.” Time will tell if these cases have a happy ending or not but they are different from our older traditional NFL. This is the new normal. I would not be surprised if more cases like this pop up.
Arizona WR DeAndre Hopkins’ injury on day one of padded practice was questioned
initially but he has denied that his hamstring tweak was anything more than just that and
WR AJ Green, again after one practice, is not practicing in Cincinnati. Both have let it be
known they would like new, long term deals in the past - stay tuned. The fact that we have
these “hold in’s” make us question anybody sitting out and that’s not fair but who can blame
What else should we expect - its 2020 and everything falls under the category of the “new