Arizona Cardinals’ wide receiver Anquan Boldin and his agent Drew Rosenhaus want to tear up his $22.75 million contract (now in its 2nd year and legally valid through 2010) and renegotiate.
Why? They feel the market for wide receivers has changed for the better (for them) and he deserves a lot more money. Despite the Cardinals’ apparent willingness to renegotiate, Boldin also has requested a trade and claims his relationship with Cardinals’ head coach Ken Wizenhunt has deteriorated.
What’s going on here and what can we learn from it?
One, the rationale for the renegotiation is that the market has changed. And there is good evidence of this – Boldin’s teammate and fellow star receiver Larry Fitzgerald just signed a four year $40 million deal. Many experts also believe Boldin is slightly better.
“So what if the market changed,” you might say. “Boldin signed the deal two years ago and took the risk the market would change. If he wanted flexibility to renegotiate with market changes, he should have signed for two and not four years. He certainly wouldn’t want to renegotiate if the market had changed in the other direction!”
All this is true. And what you have here strategically is a conflict between two elements of my Third Golden Rule of Negotiation – Employ “Fair” Objective Criteria. Boldin says his compensation is “unfair” due to his new market value (an objective criteria and standard).
Likewise, the Cardinals counter with another objective criteria and standard – precedent – in saying a “deal is a deal” and it’s “unfair” to renegotiate.
Which criteria wins? In football, Boldin has the upper hand as team owners have fairly consistently renegotiated their stars’ contracts when market conditions change. And the Cardinals are true to form here, indicating a willingness to renegotiate.
Two, watch the leverage. At the end of the day, Boldin’s Plan B is not very good. If he doesn’t renegotiate a deal and holds out, he potentially loses some or all of his current multi-million dollar salary and may get a reputation as a selfish star who puts his self-interest above his team’s.
Of course, that’s not great for the Cardinals either. Most believe the team needs a happy and productive Boldin to be competitive and keep their fan base happy (or at least not really upset).
In my opinion, the leverage advantage tips toward the Cardinals. Boldin threatened a holdout but then reported to camp. It thus doesn’t appear likely he will take out his contract frustration on the field. Plus, doing so would only harm him down the road. This doesn’t appear likely.
His relatively weak leverage does, however, explain his comment about Wizenhunt and his trade request. These appear to be his efforts to gain leverage by creating the perception of a worse Plan B for the Cardinals. (“If you don’t give me more money,” Boldin appears to be suggesting, “trade me to someone that will. This Plan B is better for you than keeping me, especially as I don’t get along with my coach.”)