One of the typical stories that come out of NFL training camps annually isn’t just who’s in camp and the numerous position battles. The biggest tend to be about more who isn’t there. There are several big names that have yet to either arrive at their respective teams’ camps.
Here are a few contract situations to watch out for this preseason in the NFL.
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints:
Saints wideout Michael Thomas is one of the few true stars of the game currently holding out, and he wasn’t shy about it on Twitter, referencing lyrics from the late Nipsey Hussle.
Thomas is set to make just over $1.1 million in this final year of his rookie contract and is seeking an extension that would make him the highest-paid wideout in the game, potentially over $20 million per year – new Browns wideout Odell Beckham Jr. is currently the highest-paid at $18 million per year.
He’s Drew Brees’ go-to receiver, snagging a league-high 125 balls last year for 1,405 yards with nine touchdowns. He’s increased his yardage production in each of his first three seasons, racking over 1,100 yards receiving per season. He deserves a pay raise, the question is how high the Saints are willing to go.
Yannick Ngakoue, Jacksonville Jaguars:
One of the game’s top young pass rushers skipped mini-camp and is now holding out of training camp with the Jags until he gets paid and gets his job security. He’s recorded 29.5 sacks in his first three seasons in Jacksonville and is due to make just over $2 million this season. According to the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Jaguars offered Ngakoue a short term-deal worth over $19 million per year, but talks broke off.
Julio Jones (kind of), Atlanta Falcons:
Julio Jones wants a new contract. Julio Jones knows he deserves a new contract. And he’s about to get the new contract he wants – but he’s not holding out yet. Jones signed an extension last year, on July 27th, and per league rules, he can’t sign a new deal until after a full calendar year after signing his previous. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jones’ new deal, when he does sign, is expected to hit north of $20 million per year.
Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers:
The biggest name of the holdout class of 2019, Gordon is aiming to not only get paid but also get job security with a long-term deal with guarantees. He’s set to make $5.6 million in the final year of his rookie deal this year. The holdout could be the longest of any of the others this preseason. Gordon’s been nothing but productive since arriving at the Chargers in 2015; however, where Le'Veon Bell sat out a year and got paid, most others point to the downfall of Todd Gurley, who signed a big-money extension but has significant knee issues that will affect his productivity. Gurley is a closer comp to Gordon than Bell, if only because both struggled with injuries in the past but are quality players when healthy. A trade is also possible for Gordon should the holdout extend deep into the first half of the regular season.
Trent Williams, Washington Redskins:
Williams’ holdout may not be the biggest one, unless you’re the Washington Redskins, but it’s the most distracting amongst any of the NFL teams. Everyone in Redskins camp has been asked about him in some way. His holdout is an interesting one. He’s demanding changes to the team’s medical staff and to restructure his current deal. Nothing major is expected to be changed and given recent events between him and the Redskins, it’s more possible that Williams is traded and doesn’t return to Washington this season