A lot was made of Odell Beckham’s absence from the Giants offseason workout program and the fact that he is back for their mandatory minicamp. Neither really should have come as a surprise and in part this is due to the way in which the rookie contract system works.
While the NFL allows drafted players to sign extensions after their third year in the NFL, they severely limit the player’s ability to force the issue. The way in which most players are able to force the issue is to not just threaten but be able to hold out to try to force the team to make a new commitment to the player.
The problem for the players is that if the player decides to hold out of training camp for any material period of time (the date is 30 days before the first game IIRC) he will not earn an accrued season for the purposes of free agency. That means a player drafted after round 1 would be a restricted free agent following the expiration of his contract while a player drafted in the first round would effectively lose their ability to hold out in the contracts fifth option year.
For a star like Beckham he has to pick his spots wisely. If he holds out of camp this year and the Giants refuse to budge, what is his recourse? Really nothing. He’ll probably come back to the team at some point after racking up potential fines and losing a portion of his signing bonus. Beckham is only scheduled to earn $1.8M this year and fines will eat into that.
Come next year Beckham would be unable to hold out or even threaten it since he would lose his unrestricted status if he failed to report to camp for the second straight year. Technically the Giants would then hold his rights in 2019 for about $9.3 million a number far lower than the franchise tag or any first year contract money.
If Beckham plays his contract out this year the right way he earns the 4th accrued season which gives him the ability to hold out next year. Being that he is set to earn over $8 million in 2018, the fines are nowhere near as significant. His signing bonus is also all finished this year so he would no longer have forfeitable salary in his contract. It just makes more sense to hold out next year rather than play his hold out card this year when it has very limited benefit. So if he can’t really follow through on a hold out this year there is no need to start racking up fines or anything else when there really is no end game for him.
While I don’t really care much if players do or do not go to the team workout programs, I actually think for a player that is in Beckham’s spot it would have been beneficial. For players of Beckham’s stature the workout program isn’t going to help him but it does provide a good situation to show commitment to the front office and to take on more of a leadership role with his teammates. It also provides far less material for some in the media to go after him on and whether fair or not there is a negativity about him from some big voices in the media. These are all little things that may not always help when angling for a new contract but they certainly won’t hurt.
Might Beckham be unhappy during practice and quickly pull a muscle and sit out? Maybe he will as a form of protest, but even if he doesn’t I wouldn’t take it as a sign that he is happy with his contract as some on the NY radio seemed to indicate today. The most they really could do was to let the biggest reporter at ESPN make it known he wasn’t happy to get it out there, but I don’t he is happy with the deal, there just isn’t much he can do to change it.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.