Many NFL teams are struggling to sign their top players to extensions this offseason. NFL.com's Steve Wyche reports that teams are trying to decide if signing their top players to lucrative long-term deals is in the best interest for the foreseeable future. Teams must decide if they want to give a lot of money to their franchise players and run the risk of failing to maintain a competitive roster in future years.
The teams that face this dilemma this offseason include the Saints, Jaguars, Steelers, and Jets. There is a bit of controversy with what is happening with Drew Brees and the Saints' contract stalemate, but everyone expects the Saints to eventually reach a deal with one of the top quarterbacks in the game. The big questions lie with players like Mike Wallace, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Darrelle Revis. With the salary cap unlikely to increase much in the coming years, will teams risk giving too much money to players like Jones-Drew and Revis?
Wyche expects a peaceful conclusion when it comes to the Brees and Wallace negotiations. Pertaining to Brees, He writes:
"The Saints have said they want to take care of Brees and the feeling around the league is that a long-term deal will be reached and all will be good."
As for Wallace, he writes:
"There appears to be good-will negotiations taking place, since the Steelers opted not to reduce Wallace's tender to $577,000 to try and strong-arm him."
While there may not end up being too much Brees or Wallace drama, the Jones-Drew and Revis situations are different. Jones-Drew signed a five year contract in 2009, so he still has a few years left on his deal. He has given hints that he may holdout this training camp if a new contract is not signed. Wyche writes that one General Manager thinks giving Jones-Drew more money could be a problem for other teams:
"Some tweaks, like incentives, could be added, but re-doing a deal at this point could prompt other players to challenge management and make the club appear vulnerable. Jones-Drew has outperformed his contract, but other players have under-performed contracts, as well, and they don't give refunds," the GM said.
Jones-Drew is 27 years old and has a good amount of wear and tear on his tires. At the completion of his deal he will be nearing the age of 30, typically the age when most heavy worked running backs are slowing down. Do the Jaguars give him an extension to make him happy and risk hurting their future, or do they hope Jones-Drew agrees to hold off on the extension talks?
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis will also be an interesting case. Revis notoriously held out of training camp in 2010, a story that was played out on HBO's Hard Knocks. He eventually signed a seven year deal, but an option in his contract allows him to make the contract only four years, if he chooses. Revis wants to retire as a Jet but has threatened to hold out of training camp again if his contract his not reworked. The Jets and other teams have to decide if reworking contracts for star players every couple of years is the right thing to do in the long run.
The Bengals could eventually be in these types of situations with players like A.J. Green, Andy Dalton, and Geno Atkins. These players are not able to be extended until they have played for three seasons, but talks are in the foreseeable future.