Every year during training camp, there are holdouts that linger into training camp and start to affect a team’s chances for the season. So now that all training camps in the league are underway, we thought we’d compare the impacts of these holdouts via Football Relativity. We’re using a 10-point scale, with 10 being the most significant holdouts and 1 being the least significant.
10 – WR Roddy White, Falcons – White has had two huge years in a row and is now a legitimate lead receiver for Atlanta. Now he wants to be paid as such, and he’s training in Birmingham instead of with the Falcons until that happens. Given the youth of QB Matt Ryan, more reps between him and White are still a necessity. The injury to Harry Douglas, the only real optoin Atlanta would have to replace White, makes White’s holdout even more glaring. The Falcons can’t succeed without White, and they need to get him in camp with at least three preseason games left so that he’s completely ready to go when the season opens.
9 – WR Michael Crabtree, 49ers – Crabtree, the 10th overall pick in the draft, reportedly wants a contract equivalent to a top-3 deal. If that’s the case, this holdout could linger, and if it lingers, it will severely limit Crabtree’s ability to contribute as a rookie. There’s even a pie-in-the-sky threat that Crabtree would sit out the season and reenter the draft next year. That seems like an idle threat, but it shows how far apart the two sides are. Crabtree is a playmaker, but he’s the kind of receiver who depends on route-running and body-positioning to thrive, and those are things that are typically hard for rookies to pick up. The more practice Crabtree misses, the worse off he and the Niners are going to be in 2009. That makes this holdout one to watch.
8 – none
7 – CB Dunta Robinson, Texans – Robinson, the Texans’ franchise player, didn’t sign a long-term deal before the deadline, and so his only option for 2009 is to play under a one-year deal worth just under $10 million. But to this point, Robinson is refusing to do so, which creates a logjam with no easy answer. Perhaps a proviso like the Titans gave Albert Haynesworth promising not to franchise Robinson again if he reaches certain goals would help, but because there really aren’t any monetary negotiations that can happen now, it’s up to Robinson when he wants to play. Until he doesn, the Texans defense will be missing a starting-caliber cornerback, which hurts. Robinson isn’t great, but he’s good enough to be noticed when he’s not there. That’s especially true with Jacque Reeves (slated to be Robinson’s replacement) likely to miss the first few games of the regular season as he recovers from a broken leg suffered in training camp.
6 – DB Malcolm Jenkins, Saints – Jenkins is now the lowest draft pick (14th overall) left unsigned, but the negotiation doesn’t seem to be going really well at this point. The Saints really need Jenkins’ athleticism in their secondary this year, but the fact that he can play safety and corner could work against him as he misses practices. In an ideal situation, Jenkins could move around the secondary so that the Saints could best utilize his skills, but a holdout likely quashes that kind of idea, at least at the start of the season. Regardless, for a team like the Saints with high hopes for the season, not having Jenkins in camp on time is a hard pill to swallow.
5- OT Eugene Monroe, Jaguars – Monroe’s holdout is significant, but not necessarily for the reason you might think. Yes, the Jags want Monroe to start this year, but if he’s not ready, Tra Thomas is still a capable starter. But the fact that Jacksonville had such a prolonged holdout with Derrick Harvey, the No. 8 pick last year, means that Monroe’s holdout as the eighth pick brings up bad memories and a lot of questions about Jacksonville’s ability to pay premium prices for players. It’ll be interesting to see if Monroe ends up being the last first-rounder signed like Harvey did.
4 – LB Aaron Curry, Seahawks – Curry is in a tough contract spot, because the player picked before him at No. 3 (Tyson Jackson) signed late, and the player picked after him (Mark Sanchez) is a quarterback whose contract is artificially high because of his position. The signs seem to indicate that the Curry negotiations aren’t contentious, which gives hope now that Jackson has signed, but the time Curry’s missing still stings. Curry should still be able to step in and play, but his ability to be a three-down player could be limited by a prolonged holdout.
3 – NT B.J. Raji, Packers – The Packers need Raji to help anchor the nose in their new 3-4 defense, but his responsibilities will be pretty simple as a two-gap player, and so missing training camp time isn’t a killer. Because nobody between 7 and 12 in the first round has signed, the deal for Raji (No. 9) appears to be a domino who will fall pretty quickly – just not first.
2 – OT Andre Smith, Bengals – Smith, the sixth overall pick in the draft, hasn’t yet come to a deal with the Bengals. Smith is slated to step right in and start at left tackle for Cincy, and he should still be able to do that as long as he gets into camp by mid-August. That limits the damage of this particular holdout.
2 (con’t) – LB Aaron Maybin, Bills – Maybin, at pick No. 11, is another guy who is being held up by the contract squabbles around him. Once he signs, the Bills will try to work him into a pass-rushing role at linebacker, defensive end, or maybe both, but a prolonged holdout could limit his versatility, especially early in the season. That’s probably the biggest cost the Bills and Maybin are facing at this point.
1 – RB Knowshon Moreno, Broncos – Moreno, the 12th overall pick, isn’t in camp yet, but running back is probably the easiest position for a rookie to step right in. Even if his holdout goes to the third preseason game, Moreno should still know enough to be the Broncos’ primary running back. In fact, the holdout may save a little bit of pounding on Moreno and help him go a little longer before hitting the rookie wall. So this holdout isn’t yet really impactful, although the Broncos need to get Moreno in the fold before the regular season begins.