NFL Contracts – 15 Ways NFL Players and Teams Gain Leverage in
Negotiations – Part Two
By Alvin Grier, Elite Sports Agency
Welcome back to our brief look into the different ways teams and
players can gain leverage when it comes contract negotiations. Click here if you
missed part one
Let’s pick up where we left off, and continue with number 7.
How Players Can Gain Leverage, Continued
7. Another Player of Similar (or Less) Ability Gets
If you’re in the midst of, or heading into contract negotiations, and a
player that is of equal or less stature or ability (or whatever) gets a
new, lucrative contract, it can give you more leverage.
Take Drew Brees’ situation for example. Peyton Manning got a
five-year $96 million deal from the Broncos, which gives him a $19.2
million average per year.
Up to that point, the Saints had reportedly offered Brees a deal that
averaged a little over $18.5 million.
With Brees being younger and healthier, this gives Brees the leverage
to ask for more.
I’m not sure what his demands are right now, but I’ve heard that he was
seeking $23 million, which isn’t surprising, especially with the new
leverage he’s attained from Peyton’s situation.
Not to mention that the Bountygate situation has stripped the Saints
franchise of most of it’s leadership, so they need their quarterback
more than ever now.
Not to mention he set the NFL passing record in 2011.
8. Having a Cap Number that Keeps the Team from
Making Other Off Season Moves
Calvin Johnson is arguably the best receiver in the game, and he was
about to be an unrestricted free agent after the 2012 season.
But despite those reasons, I’m pretty sure the $21.2 million cap number
he was going to cost the Lions for the 2012 season was a major reason
why he got that new deal.
If they didn’t give him a new deal, his cap number would’ve made it
extremely difficult for the Lions to make any other roster acquisitions.
Now let’s take a look at how teams can gain leverage.
How NFL Teams Can Gain Leverage
9. Lack of a Market for Your Services on Other Teams
A good example of this is the Lions’ defensive end Cliff Avril. He wants a long-term deal, but his chances of getting
one dropped considerably after the 2012 NFL Draft.
All the teams that needed a defensive end either got one in the draft,
or picked one up in free agency.
It’s not likely that the Lions will give him the long-term deal he
wants; at least not yet.
10. Revealing Your Cards Destroys Your Leverage
I’m sure there’s a reason for this, and I’m sure his agent is
brilliant, however Wes Welker publicly stating that he’s not going to
miss any games in the 2012 season because of his contract removed any
leverage he had for getting a new, long term deal done prior to the
Plus, he already signed his tender, so everyone knows he’s not going to
As I mentioned, this could be part of a larger plan between he and his
agent, or it could very well be because Wes just flat out refuses to
miss any games, or some other reason, like the $9.5 Million he’s going
to make in 2012 from being franchised.
11. Drafting a Player at Your Position, Especially if They Do Well in
Right now in 2012, Ray Rice wants a new deal.
With the numbers he put up last season, it’s hard to argue that he
hasn’t outperformed his contract.
Even so, the Ravens drafted running back Bernard Pierce in the 2012
Draft, and if he does well in OTA’s and camp, the Ravens might be able
to take a little of that leverage away from Ray.
We’ll have to wait and see how this one plays out.
12. Asking for a New Contract as an
Exclusive-Rights Free Agent
The team also has the leverage if you’re trying to ask for a new
contract while you’re an exclusive-rights free agent
Exclusive-rights free agents only have a couple years of accumulated
experience, so they haven’t accumulated enough seasons in the NFL to be
able to negotiate with other teams.
When you’re in this situation, the only team you can negotiate with is
your current team, so you don’t have much leverage.
A good example of this is Fred Jackson from the Bills, and his previous
contract, that he wasn’t happy with.
He was an exclusive-rights free agent when he signed that previous
deal, and wasn’t really in a position to ask for much more than what
the Bills were going to give him.
13. Teams Play the Injury/Durability Concern Card
This one is used by teams pretty often, but it’s most easily used on
A team can gain the leverage if there’s injury or durability concerns,
especially if the team has already brought in a potential replacement.
Especially if you’re getting up there in age. Take Matt Forte
Many believe the Bears have (at the time when I’m typing this) gained
leverage on Matt largely due to him missing four games in the 2011
season due to injuries, and the fact that he missed quite a few games
at Tulane in college due to injuries.
Take all of that into consideration, and the Bears just might hold the
leverage in that situation.
Especially after bringing in Michael Bush.
14. Player Has Multiple Years Left on Contract
A team can gain the leverage when/if you want a new deal and you have
multiple years left on your contract.
A good example of this one is the Maurice Jones-Drew situation.
Heading into the 2012 season, he wants a new contract, but the truth is
that the Jaguars have him locked up for another two seasons from the
5-year deal he signed before the 2009 season.
On top of that, the Jaguars could franchise him, and if they did,
they’d have his rights for another three years.
15. Team Has Depth at Your Position
If a team has depth at your position, it can hurt your leverage if
you’re trying to hold out for a new deal.
In 2010, when Revis was holding out for a new deal, Kyle Wilson, the
first round draft pick at corner was doing great in training camp.
They also had Marquise Cole and Drew Coleman and a few other
players that were doing well.
If the player was anyone else other than Darrelle Revis, that depth at
the cornerback position just might’ve been enough to convince the Jets
that they would move forward into the season without him.
But, it wasn’t anyone else; it was Darrelle Revis.
Miss Part One
Grier's colums appear on Scout.com reprinted with permission.
You can read more at Get2TheLeague.com
Alvin Grier serves as the Director
of Midwest Operations for Elite
Sports Agency (ESA), that services 15 current NFL players, and several
UFL and CFL players. As a collegiate football player, Alvin
earned his Bachelors and Masters of Science degrees (in Information
Technology) from Ferris State University. (Bio),
you can also find him on Twitter @alvingrier,
or facebook: Get2TheLeague