Report: The NFL is worried more players are going to hold out for bigger contracts

Kam chancellorJeff Gross/GettyKam Chancellor could set a precedent to other players if he gets his way.

Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor became the first player to hold out of a game since the NFL lockout in 2011, and the league is worried it will become a trend, according to ProFootball Talk’s Mike Florio.

While holdouts during training camp are frequent, players usually fold or a deal gets done before games begin. Chancellor has thus far been the boldest player, forfeiting $US267,000 for each game he holds out to get a bigger contract.

However, according to Florio, with the salary cap rising, the NFL fears players will begin to hold out for bigger contracts as their current deals become smaller portions of the cap.

Over the last two seasons, the NFL’s salary cap has risen eight-figures per year, meaning old deals become smaller share of the cap. As player value is often tied to the cap, players may feel they should be given deals more reflective of their worth under a higher cap. If a player is making $US7 million per year under a $US143 salary cap, they may suddenly feel like a “bargain” if the cap jumps to, say, $US150 million the next year.

As a result, players could start demanding raises to go back to what they previously earned as a percentage of the cap.

Florio reports that the NFL could push the Seahawks not to fold to Chancellor. The Seahawks themselves have set a team-building precedent: they draft good, young players, give those players payraises when they have earned it, and let them go if not to make room for other young players. Folding to Chancellor — who received an extension in 2013 — would not only break that precedent, it would be a message to other players that holding out could be worth their while.

As Florio mentions, what players and agents could begin doing is anticipating cap spikes in future contract negotiations. Instead of setting permanent figures each year of the contract, contracts could have a base salary “with a bonus aimed at getting [a player’s] total pay to a set percentage of a given year’s salary cap.”

While that could backfire should the cap ever decrease, the NFL’s business is booming, and the salary cap falling any time soon seems unlikely.

Whether the NFL would be on board with this type of deal is another matter — it could mess up team salary caps depending on how much the cap spikes, especially when there are other contracts with fixed yearly figures. Still, the NFL would be smart to try their best to avoid giving players incentive to hold out.

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