The big NFL news on Monday was a report that Dallas Cowboys wide receiver was willing to hold out and miss regular season games if the he and the Cowboys couldn’t reach a deal on a new contract. Bryant was a free agent this offseason, and the Cowboys used their franchise tag on him.
Why is this coming out now? Simple, the deadline to reach a long-term agreement for franchise players in on Wednesday. This is leverage that Bryant has in their negotiations, and he’s clearly using it to try and get a favorable deal.
This is a situation worth watching for fans of the Seattle Seahawks. Not because Bryant matters to Seattle, but because Russell Wilson could be in this same situation next year.
Wilson cannot hold out this year. If he does, he’ll be a restricted free agent next year instead of an unrestricted free agent. It would extend the number of years of team control for another year. That actually benefits Seattle, and not Wilson in negotiations. Next year though is a different story.
It is one thing for a player to hold out of training camp and the preseason the way Walter Jones did for three years in a row. It is a completely different thing for a player to miss regular season games.
A player can hold out for six weeks before reporting and still have the year count for service time. That means that if they report at that time, the franchise tag value for the following year still goes up by 20 percent. There’s no recourse for the NFL team other than to reach a long-term deal.
This is why Wilson and his agent have been content to wait out negotiations and play under his rookie deal in 2015. He has no leverage right now. The Seahawks have been willing to make fair-market offer, but they haven’t shown a willingness to meet his demands.
Next year though, the situation becomes much different. The prospect of trying to compete for a division crown and potentially another Super Bowl without their starting quarterback for six games is something that they don’t want to consider.
Negotiations are all about leverage. Bryant is applying his leverage now. Seattle fans have to hope that the Seahawks and Wilson can get a deal in place before Wilson gets a chance to apply his leverage. Otherwise this saga could only be just beginning.
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