2014 potential NFL holdouts: Patrick Peterson a leading candidate

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The class of 2011 is entering its first offseason that allows them to re-negotiate rookie contracts. Several big names will be looking for major paydays and may have to resort to holdouts to get the deals they think they deserve.

The New York Jets, still scarred from the contentious 2011 holdout of Darrelle Revis, can rest a little easier knowing defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson isn't planning a similar move.

Wilkerson, who is seeking a raise and had been rumored to be mulling over a holdout, told the Metro New York that he will not hold out in 2014.

"It will be taken care of, definitely. But all that holdout and all that other talk that people were saying and everything - I never said anything like that. I'm not going to hold out," Wilkerson said. "It's not something I want; it's not something I'm thinking about. I'm going to show up like everybody else and do what I'm told."

As a 2011 draft pick, Wilkerson is among a draft class that will be the first to experiment with the NFL's new rookie contract extension format this offseason. Under the most recent CBA, all draft picks are required to sign four-year deals, with the team owning a fifth-year option it can exercise after the third season. Those contracts are initially frozen, but can be re-negotiated after three years, which means members of the 2011 draft class will be seeking extensions this offseason. While it seems the Jets won't have to deal with a holdout from their star, other teams around the league won't be so lucky.

Below is a list of guys who have outplayed their rookie contracts and have solid cases to hold out for an extension. Note that unless explicitly mentioned, none of these players have indicated they plan to do so.

CB Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals

Peterson is the most likely holdout, and the only one among this group that has publicly discussed the possibility. The former No. 5 overall pick, who has made the Pro Bowl in all three of his NFL seasons, refused to rule out a holdout when approached by Pro Football Talk.

"I can't speak on that right now," Peterson said. "Me and my agent, we haven't talked about some of those possibilities. But hopefully we can get something done. If something were to happen, we restructure my deal or anything like that, we'll have to wait and see what happens."

Thanks to the recent restructuring of Larry Fitzgerald's contract, the Cardinals have the cap space to reward their play-making corner with the hefty contract he deserves, and he knows it. If an extension doesn't materialize, Peterson could force the issue.

CB Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks' main priority this offseason is reaching an agreement with All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, who has just one more year left on his contract. Negotiating Sherman, who has emerged as arguably the top cornerback in the game, isn't as pressing, since they could theoretically use their fifth-year option to ensure he sticks around through 2015.

But Sherman may not enjoy watching his secondary mate get rewarded with a massive new deal while he continues to play for less than $1.4 million, an absurdly low number given his production.

DE Robert Quinn, St. Louis Rams

Quinn set the the Rams' franchise record for sacks, finished just .5 sacks behind league-leader Robert Mathis and earned an All-Pro designation in 2013 -- all under a modest four-year, $2.5 million deal. Now that the No. 14 pick of the 2011 draft is eligible for a new contract, he'll want to cash in on his breakout season. The Rams would undoubtedly prefer to lock Quinn in at a long-term contract, but with a less-than-stellar cap situation, may prefer to put it off until next year. A holdout could make them reconsider.

TE Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos

A fourth-round pick in 2011, Thomas's current contract will pay him just $741,000 in 2014, which is much too low for a guy that hauled in 12 touchdowns this past season. But with the Broncos facing contract decisions with all three of their top wide receivers, locking down the tight end may not be a priority. Eric Decker is about to hit the open market this offseason, and they'll have to worry about the expiring deals of Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker this time next year. That could leave Thomas underpaid for at least another season.

DE J.J. Watt, Houston Texans

The Texans have about $9 million in cap space, but can free up significantly more if they cut Matt Schaub. They could then look at locking down Watt, who has made his case over the last two seasons for being the best defender in the league. The downside, of course, is that he would have to be paid as the best defender in the league, as opposed to the bargain $3.58 cap hit he's currently scheduled have next season. Given the team's recent history of questionable big-money contracts (recent recipients Arian Foster and Brian Cushing have rewarded the Texans with injury problems), Houston may need some prodding to invest that kind of cash.

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