Mandatory minicamps have begun around the NFL. After a long off-season of coaching changes, free agency signings, and rookies coming out from the draft, full teams can finally be seen coming together. No longer do we need to speculate as to what is news versus noise, which teams are on the rise, and which veterans may be in trouble. We now get to watch the stories unfold. Or at least that was the hope.
Apparently, there are still some players that want to keep us and their teams guessing. And no, I’m talking about backup linemen or third-string receivers, I’m talking about cornerstone players who impact their teams in dramatic fashion. We all are very familiar with the Aaron Rodgers saga, but he isn’t the only major player holding out of minicamp. Stephon Gilmore, Xavien Howard, Chandler Jones, and Jamal Adams all claim their piece of the superstar holdout drama.
Let us take a moment to take a deeper look at each player, their importance to the team, what I believe should be done, and what I believe will happen.
I’m sure everyone has followed this story and is sick of it by now, but it has to be covered in an article sure as this one. In my news or noise article, I played off Rodgers going to another team as complete noise and not playing for the Packers as possible noise. While I still hold to him not playing for another team in 2021, recent events have made me believe that him not playing in 2021 may be news.
Until two Thursdays ago, there was neither video evidence nor direct social media post from either Rodgers or the Pack that gave any indication they were to the breaking point. Then, on June 10th, the story broke that Rodgers had a heart-to-heart with former teammate James Jones. He gave him two reasons why his relationship with Green Bay was beyond repair. While the first reason remains a mystery the second one is very clear.
Jones cited that Rodgers feels that the Packers do not make any effort to keep players that are both good for the franchise and locker room, in addition to players he likes. He cited players like Charles Woodson, Jordy Nelson, Randal Cobb, and Clay Matthews. Jake Kumerow was the last one he mention in the group and was implied to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Shots were finally fired, and it didn’t take long for Green Bay to fire back. The very next day, Packers’ president, Mark Murphy, called Rodgers a “complicated fella” in a press conference. The tone with which he said it was clearly somewhere between patronizing and derogatory. He made his feeling clear.
Days later, Rodgers made his feelings even more clear with an extremely passive-aggressive demeanor when doing an interview for an upcoming golf event he’s c-headlining. The “I’m offended” on his shirt rang loud and clear, as he talked about how much fun he was having this off-season. The pressure being off of him despite the fact that he still considers himself very much an NFL player comments were clearly an attempt to throw shade on the Pack while reminding them he’s in control. Not something you should really say to your current employer if you plan on going back.
It has been quiet for about a week now, but I’m sure this story will pick up even more in the near future. For now, we watch and wait to see if either side caves even a little.
At this point what can the Packers even do? Definitely not retaliate further. I doubt that there is anything that will repair the relationship at this point. It’s time to trade Rodgers to a desperate team and get as much back in return. A team like the Denver Broncos.
And before you call me out for saying that Rodgers to the Broncos is noise I need to clarify one thing: it still is noise. The truth is that Green Bay has proven to do the wrong thing by Rodgers time and time again, I’m actually surprised they haven’t come back with a sly comment yet. They should trade Rodgers, they probably won’t. This will get Le’Veon Bell messy.
Since Chandler Jones entered the league he has been one of the best at sacking the quarterback. Before his season was cut short by injury last year, he was actually the best quarterback sacker since he entered the league. Even coming off a year in which he was injured, you would expect this man to be making a lot of money, and sure enough, he is the 13th highest-paid edge rusher in the sport.
Except he’s really not. He may have the opportunity to make 16.5 million this year, but none of it is guaranteed. And coming from a year in which he could not earn his contract limits as a result of injury, Jones wants guaranteed money. Maybe in a different year, he might feel differently about it, but after he just saw his team shell out 14 million to put JJ Watt on the line you can understand his point of view.
You can also understand the Cardinals’ stance, too. They want to protect their money from another lost season of production. Even more so than that, however, they don’t need him as much as they used to. The Arizona D is set to be one of the better units in the league with or without Jones, and it’s not like they wouldn’t be able to get a great piece in return if they did decide to move him.
The Cardinals need to trade Chandler Jones. He still has plenty of value, he can fetch them another strong piece for their defense, turning their minus into a plus. His contract if converted to guaranteed would not be too much for another team to take on, considering his level of talent. Plenty of teams still need an edge rusher, the Cards just need to be serious about shopping him.
And I believe Arizona will do the right thing. I also don’t believe that it will be that difficult for them to find a trade partner, but I will cover that further when I get to another player on this list.
The Stephon Gilmore story is by far the most straightforward of all of these situations. Gilmore is among the top 3-4 cornerbacks in the NFL. Once rookies Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn signed their contracts he became only the 25th highest paid CB this season. That’s right: top 4 talent, barely top 25 contract, and 2 rookies who have done NOTHING on the NFL level both make more than him. And to add insult to injury, the highest-paid CB (who some believe Gilmore is better than) will be making almost 3x more than his pitiful 7.5 million this year. Shameful. End of discussion.
The icing on this cake is that the Patriots desperately need him to be the anchor on their defense. The 2019 Defensive Player of the Year is the reason why the Patriots have had a number one defense in the past. Gilmore is essential to both the team’s chance of winning and their defense’s chances of returning to dominance.
The Patriots shelled out a ton of money to drastically improve their roster this off-season. Time to man up and pay the most important piece. All the man wants is to be given pay fairly to that of his talent and peers. They need him badly, the relationship isn’t damaged, therefore they should just pay him.
And that they will. I have no doubt that the Pats will do the right thing and give Gilmore the contract he deserves. Afterall, if they don’t all of the other off-season moves might turn out to be worthless.
As easy as the Gilmore story is, the Xavien Howard story is complicated. Yes, it is 100% about the money again, but this one is very different. For one, this isn’t about Howard getting what he deserves, it’s about greed. And greed is a complicated thing.
Don’t get me wrong, Howard is an amazing talent. Last year he was the top cover corner in the league as far as completion percentage is concerned. He has also led the league in interceptions the last two seasons. With that said, he just signed an extension a year ago to make him the sixth highest-paid CB in the NFL.
Now, you might say that if he led the league in interceptions and was the top cover corner then he is the best and deserves to be paid that way. And if you did question that based on what I said before it would be crystal clear that you don’t know all of the facts. Howard’s history of being an elite CB only stems back a couple of seasons at this point, whereas guys like Gilmore, Jalen Ramsey, and Marshon Lattimore go back much farther.
Howard also gives up a huge amount of touchdowns compared to how efficient he is on the other parts of the field. The 9 receiving touchdowns he gave up in 2020 are too many to even have him ranked in the top 10. The deficiency is clear when comparing him with other truly elite CBs.
What’s more, he isn’t the only strong member of that secondary. He has another great CB in Byron Jones starting opposite him. He really doesn’t get how great of a situation he has. Plenty of help around him, making his opportunity for interceptions greater, and a contract that already matches the level of elite player which he is.
Trade the diva away. Guys like Howard will end up being more problems than they are worth, despite their talent. He has illusions of grandeur, believing he is the clear-cut best CB in the NFL. He will never be satisfied no matter how much you give to him. Make him someone else’s problem.
Who should they trade him for? Chandler Jones. The Cardinals are in a position to where a piece like Xavien Howard puts them in serious contention in the NFC. The Cards are a win-now team and can afford the baggage if the talent truly pushes them over the top. Meanwhile, the Dolphins can get a stud edge rusher to pair with rookie Jalean Phillips. The best part for the Fins is that the additional pass rush should go a long way to offset the loss in the secondary. The trade is truly a win-win.
When the Seahawks gave the Jets two 1sts and a 3rd for Jamal Adams last season they were pretty certain they were going to be able to extend his contract. Or else the whole trade wouldn’t be worth it, right? The harsh reality is that it might not have been worth it.
Jamal is now sitting out until the contract that the Hawks told him was coming comes. So what is delaying it? Jamal wants to be a Seahawk, the Hawks plan on extending him, what’s the issue? We’re really not sure.
Seattle had to know how much it was going to cost to resign him or else they would not have made the trade. It’s not like he had any team loyalty when they completed the transaction. Therefore, they had to be prepared to make him the highest-paid safety in the league, given his level of talent and unique skill set.
Hmm…maybe that’s the issue? Maybe Jamal doesn’t just know he’s the best, maybe he’s trying to get paid like a pass rusher. After all, they make much more than a safety does. Maybe the Seahawks thought that all they would have to do was beat the contract of the highest-paid safety in Justin Simmons. Maybe Adams thought that he was going to get closer to the highest-paid pass rusher, given that his skill set includes that. The gap between Simmon’s 15.25 million and Joey Bosa’s 27 million might be more than enough to hold up negotiations.
That’s my best guess. Only Seattle and Adams truly know until the situation is either resolved or gets messy. Until then, all we can do is speculate.
The Seahawks have to find a way to make the extension work. With Alijah Vera-Tucker in and another 1st round pick on its way, the Jets have already won the trade. The Hawks need to make sure that this doesn’t turn out to be a complete embarrassment. Now, this doesn’t mean that I think they should cave and give Adams elite edge rusher money, but maybe they can meet him somewhere in the middle? Let’s say around 20 million per season?
What do I think will happen? I believe that Seattle and Adams will eventually get on the same page. I don’t know what that looks like yet, but I feel confident that Jamal will not miss any snaps due to holdout this season.
Every year star players go through contract negotiations with their teams. And every year a few of them slip through the cracks into both mini and training camps. Most find a way to resolve themselves before any damage is done, though sometimes a high-profile player pushes it closer and closer to the NFL season. In the end, though, most resolve without any loss of meaningful games.
Damage does get done, however. Whether it’s a team losing resources to improve their chances of winning or a loss of trust between the player and organization. Above we discussed five very unique situations, ranging from stingy teams to greedy players. The saddest, however, the complete loss of trust in the Rodgers situation. I presented my feelings on each of these scenarios, what do you think? How will this play out? Only time will tell.
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