DENVER, CO - JANUARY 08: Mike Wallace #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs the ball for a touchdown in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 8, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Dwayne Bowe, Mike Wallace and Maurice Jones-Drew continue their holdouts more than a week into training camp.
Justin Blackmon agreed to terms with the Jacksonville Jaguars, which means there are now three NFL players who have yet to report to their teams. The Chiefs' Dwayne Bowe, Jaguars' Maurice Jones-Drew and Steelers' Mike Wallace are all holdouts at this point.
MJD is the only true holdout as he has two years remaining on his contract. Bowe has yet to sign his franchise tender so, technically, he doesn't have a contract to hold out from. Wallace, a restricted free agent, is in the same boat as Bowe with his unsigned tender.
Which holdout will last the longest? Is there an end in sight for any of them?
Dwayne Bowe, The Franchise Tag Holdout
The Chiefs issued Bowe the franchise tag at the start of free agency and he has yet to sign the tender, which means he's not under contract and not subject to fines for skipping camp. The deadline to agree to a long-term deal has passed, so Bowe's only option at this point is to sign the tender and play or not play at all. With weekly game checks of over $500,000 coming, it's a safe bet that he'll show up before Week 1.
Bowe's not really gaining anything by holding out right now. He's going to be a free agent in 2013 or be hit with the franchise tag, so his best option right now is to put up the best possible 2012 season to maximize his future earnings. By skipping camp, he's only hurting himself and the team.
Bowe's refusal to join the Chiefs at camp could create a situation where the Chiefs are even more hesitant to give him a long-term deal, which could then result in him getting denied a chance at free agency and a long-term deal via the use of the franchise tag next year.
So, yeah, Bowe's holdout doesn't make much sense, especially after he said a few months ago he would be at training camp.
Prediction: Bowe signs the tender and ends his holdout a week before the regular season starts.
Maurice Jones-Drew, The Contract Holdout
MJD has two years remaining on his current deal, a contract the Jags gave him in April 2009. At that point, MJD wasn't as proven as he is now. His deal three years ago was a five-year contract worth just over $30 million. He's clearly out-played that deal after leading the NFL in rushing last season.
The problem arises from the fact that the Jaguars also took a risk on him three years ago, giving him a big deal before they had to. The Jaguars want their risk rewarded by MJD playing out his current deal. They've already publicly said they won't give him a new deal.
MJD Holdout: What's The End Game?
For MJD's part, he's 27 years old and realizes this may be his last, best chance at securing a big-money deal. He has reason to dig his heels in and stand put. He's also the Jaguars best player so it's not as if he doesn't have any leverage.
Prediction: The two sides agree to a restructured contract before the season that gives MJD more guaranteed money up front.
Mike Wallace, The Restricted Free Agent Holdout
Wallace's situation got a lot more interesting last week. Shortly after it was reported that the two sides were done talking contract, the Steelers signed Antonio Brown to a five-year deal worth over $40 million. That's probably the type of money the Steelers were hoping to pay Wallace. Now Wallace is stuck in a situation where the Steelers have dug in and committed to another receiver.
Though the Steelers generally hang onto their own players, there is a precedent for them parting ways with high-profile receivers. It happened with Plaxico Burress and it happened with Santonio Holmes. Past history suggests the Steelers would be willing to walk away.
Wallace is in a tough spot. The Steelers own his rights this season via the restricted free agent tender and then can franchise tag him next year, and perhaps even the year after that. If they want, Pittsburgh can deny him that long-term deal for several years.
Prediction: Wallace signs the tender and reports to the Steelers before Week 1, setting up more contract negotiations in 2013.