Thursday , July 25 2024

2024 NFL Contract Holdouts To Watch as Training Camp Nears

PHOTO USA Today Sports Images

The old adage is that wide receivers are more commonly divas than any other position group in sports. 

The next few weeks won’t do anything to quash that stereotype.

The Minnesota Vikings made Justin Jefferson the highest-paid non-quarterback in NFL history with a four-year, $140 million extension this summer. Star receivers from California to Texas to Florida are ready for their pay bump and ready to hold out of training camp if necessary.

With camp report dates a few weeks away, here are eight holdouts and potential holdouts worth monitoring. Let’s order these from the most obvious (some are already happening) to the more speculative possibilities.

Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb

Most Americans are not fans of America’s Team, so we’ll gladly laugh at Jerry Jones’ continued (mal)practice of sitting on his hands and letting market values rise when his No. 1 quarterback, wide receiver, and defensive player all need new contracts. Lamb skipped mandatory minicamp, and reports say he won’t report to training camp without a new deal. This one could get ugly (or funny, for Dallas haters). The Cowboys are also dealing with a quarterback on a lame-duck deal. Dak Prescott is in the final year of a four-year, $140 million contract.

49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk

Feb 7, 2024; Las Vegas, NV, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) during a press conference before Super Bowl LVIII at Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort and Spa. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Used to be that Deebo Samuel was the Niners’ biggest malcontent. 

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This summer, Aiyuk has publicly stirred the pot about his contract situation while making goo-goo eyes at Commanders rookie Jayden Daniels, his onetime college teammate, suggesting he’d want a trade to Washington. Extension and trade seem like the only two outcomes, and Aiyuk clearly isn’t going to be a passive participant in the negotiations.

Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (1) smiles after completing a deep pass in the first quarter of the NFL Week 15 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Minnesota Vikings at PayCor Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. credits: Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Chase’s teammate Tee Higgins won’t be a holdout threat now that he’s signed his franchise tender. He’ll either get a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline or play on the tag. 

But the Bengals’ front office must get moving on an even bigger deal for an even higher priority: their bona fide star, whose price went up when Jefferson got paid. Chase may be a “hold-in” candidate.

Jets EDGE Haason Reddick

Apr 4, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Jets linebacker Haason Reddick sits court side during the fourth quarter between the New York Knicks and the Sacramento Kings at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

If the Cowboys are the easiest team to laugh at, No. 2 on that list are the Jets, whose latest misstep was to trade for Reddick apparently without a plan to give him the long-term deal he wanted from Philadelphia. It wasn’t a shining moment for coach Robert Saleh when he admitted last month he hasn’t even spoken with the double-digit sackmaster, who’s yet to report to the team.

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Dolphins WR Tyreek Hill

Tyreek Hill leaves the field at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. source: Getty Images

Hill’s four-year, $120 million deal in 2022 made him the highest-paid receiver at the time. He actually has the biggest cap hit of anyone at his position this year! But again, that pesky market has reset, and Hill is openly looking for a new contract from Miami.

Browns WR Amari Cooper

Dec 24, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper (2) on the sideline during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. credits: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Yet another proven wideout who didn’t report to mandatory minicamp. Cooper, the first player in Cleveland history with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, is entering the final year of his contract. He watched the Browns immediately extend Jerry Jeudy when they acquired him, although he’s younger than the 30-year-old Cooper.

Broncos WR Courtland Sutton

Nov 19, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton (14) catches a touchdown over Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mekhi Blackmon (5) in the fourth quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. credits: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Sutton’s career accomplishments thus far are nothing compared to guys like Hill, Chase and Lamb. 

Still, he’s the clear-cut No. 1 receiver on a bad Denver team; he caught 10 touchdowns a year ago, and he knows he’s due for more money. After coming to mandatory minicamp, he only said, “We’ll see” when asked if he’d hold out of training camp. 

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Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa

Tua Tagovailoa at the Pro Bowl Games. source: Getty Images

A quarterback holdout? In this economy? 

People like NFL analyst Ryan Clark have advocated for Tagovailoa to stay off the practice field until he gets paid. The going rate for young franchise quarterbacks (Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, and, a bit more controversially, Trevor Lawrence) is $55 million a year, and Tagovailoa is on record as saying “the market is the market.” Hmm.

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