Another year, and another batch of NFL Superstars staying away from their teams training camps. And I don’t blame them one bit. As a fan it’s super annoying. Millionaires complaining that they don’t make enough money, I still remember thinking this in 2005 when Antonio Gates and the San Diego Chargers were in fierce contract negotiations. The hold-out resulted in Gates being suspended for 1 game, which the Chargers lost. Antonio Gates signed a 6 year deal worth 24 million dollars, and the Chargers would go on to miss the playoff’s that year, by one game. As I’ve grown and “matured”, I totally understand. Get your money while you can, and don’t put your body at risk without being properly compensated, especially if you’re one of the best in your field.
In 2018, the names are big, Khalil Mack, Le’Veon Bell, Aaron Donald, Julio Jones and Earl Thomas. All players that you could argue, are the best at their positions. But who deserves the contracts and who doesn’t? Here is what I would do if I was a General Manager.
Khalil Mack – He hasn’t officially no-showed as camp doesn’t start until Thursday, but PAY THE MAN. He’s been to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons, he’s the face of the defense, and an absolute pain in the side of opposing Quarterbacks. He hasn’t missed a game to injury, and has 40.5 career sacks. For comparison, Von Miller had 49 sacks in his first 4 years, and had missed time with injury, so I’m not putting him in that category yet. But with salaries and guaranteed money rising, I’d be offering Mack a deal similar to Millers 6 year, 114.5 Million dollar deal.
Le’Veon Bell – Sorry Le’Veon, you’ll be entering Free Agency next spring, as a 27 year old running back, with over 1500 rushing attempts and 350 receptions. That is a lot of mileage, and probably not someone I’m willing to over a Todd Gurley type deal. It’s too bad because the franchise tag really hurt Le’Veon in his career. Sure, he made a great annual salary, but he was never able to get the “Guaranteed Money” security. His best bet may be signing a short term deal like Kirk Cousins and getting as much guaranteed as possible.
Aaron Donald – Another case of PAY THE MAN. He’s just 27 years old, and has proven himself as the elite interior defensive lineman in the NFL. Another player who’s been to every Pro Bowl since they’ve entered the League, and maybe more importantly he’s a 3 time All-Pro, and missed just 6 games in his career. It may be tough for the Rams as they just gave Todd Gurley an extension, but Donald deserves more than the 6 year, 103 Million dealt that the Eagles gave Fletcher Cox in 2016.
Julio Jones – Julio Jones is without a doubt a top 3 receiver in the NFL, but he just signed a contract extension 3 years ago that pays him 14.25 million per year. Going into this season he’s the 9th highest paid receiver behind the likes of Antonio Brown, Mike Brown and Jarvis Landry. You can see why he wants to get paid, and probably deserves it. But this extension may be more likely to come next season.
Earl Thomas – I don’t blame Thomas for wanting an extension, or a trade. The Legion of Boom is gone. Sherman to San Fran, and Chancellor to retirement. To me, this seems like a way for Thomas to force a trade and go to a contender. Should the Seahawks allow this, the return could be quite nice for the 29 year old who makes 10 Million a year who heads into free agency in 2019.