As the NFL preseason comes to a close, a number of high-profile players are still holding out, some claiming a willingness to skip the season if they don’t get what they want.
Why would a player hold out? To strengthen their leverage. The player wants to emphasize the unattractiveness of the team’s Plan B – going through the season without that player on the field. If the player is good enough to impact the team’s actual likelihood of success, this can be quite effective.
However, it comes with risk. By missing practice and pre-season games, it’s likely the player will be less mentally and physically prepared for t he season (the Brett Favre situation notwithstanding). This is a particularly significant problem with new players. Plus, if games are missed, the player potentially loses some or all of his current or potential salary and may be viewed as a selfish player who puts his own self-interest ahead of the team (which of course he is doing).
Further, it gives competing players a chance to demonstrate their skills. Finally, given the short length of the typical NFL career, missing an entire season can disrupt a player’s career momentum and may be a lost opportunity that can never be regained.
As Kalani Simpson pointed out on FoxSports.comtoday, “The key to holding out seems to be the length of it. Long enough for them to know they’d miss you. Enough time left for you to make a difference when you get back, so the season isn’t lost.”
From a negotiation perspective, if a player wants to risk it at all, this sounds like good advice.