NFL teams can no longer ignore holdout threats. After seeing what Le’Veon Bell did in sitting out all of the 2018 season, these frustrating contract situations need to be taken seriously and handled delicately.
The New Orleans Saints were wise to move quickly on star wide receiver Michael Thomas’ contract situation. Other teams haven’t been so proactive.
It’s August, yet some big NFL names are absent from their team’s respective training camp, and if things aren’t ugly yet, they could turn that way in a hurry. Before you go placing wagers on your favorite football betting sites, be sure to update yourself on the biggest NFL holdouts and whether or not they could impact how you look (and bet) on the 2019 pro football season.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Zeke is hanging out in Mexico and is said to be working out there as he awaits word on a contract offer from Big D. The money hasn’t added up just yet, and reports suggest Elliott could pull the Le’Veon Bell card and sit out all of 2019 if he isn’t handed a new deal.
Elliott’s threat feels very real after what happened between the Steelers and Bell, while the Cowboys owner has called Zeke’s bluff by suggesting Dallas can win without him.
Jones might be wrong about that one, seeing as the team struggled mightily during his six-game suspension in 2017. Look for the two sides to come together and bang a deal out before week one.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
The Ezekiel Elliott holdout is legit and worth being concerned about if you’re betting on football this year, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the Melvin Gordon saga.
For one, Gordon isn’t nearly the talent Elliott is, while he’s also dealt with injuries and inefficiency throughout his career. The leverage just isn’t there, while the Bolts actually have two viable running backs in place to share his workload if he continues this holdout.
Running back is a devalued position, but Gordon was very good in 2018 and is clearly trying to cash in while he’s at his most valuable. That just might not happen with his current team.
LA could still extend him, but what is more likely at this point is Gordon gets traded. There are a handful of contenders that could feel Gordon improves their running game enough to take the plunge. Teams like the Packers, Colts, and Texans could show interest.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta’s star wide receiver is still under contract through the 2020 NFL season, but he’s arguably underpaid for what he means to the franchise. Still very much in his prime at 30 years old, Jones is understandably looking to get a little more cash before the wheels fall off.
For what it’s worth, there is no holdout in sight here. The Falcons seem to know how important Jones is to their offense, and GM Thomas Dimitroff has said publicly that the team plans to make Jones the highest-paid receiver in the league.
Jones could easily hold out, but he won’t. Don’t be shocked if he gets his extension before the start of the season.
As scary as Le’Veon Bell made things in 2018, it doesn’t look like any of the superstars with contract situations will sit out the entire year. It’s possible Elliott or Gordon end up holding out into the regular season, but there’s a good chance one is dealt and the other one is extended before week one.
Of the three most concerning NFL contract situations, Julio Jones is the least worrisome. He’s a lock to suit up for week one and may have a new deal by then.
Overall, these are contract situations worth monitoring for sports bettors. Both the Chargers and Cowboys used their respective star rushers to get to the playoffs a season ago, and without them, a steep decline could be waiting.