Among the many new provisions of the new 10-year labor deal, those that are most likely to concern players are the compensation structures that have been put into place. According to the new NFL CBA, rookie players will be held to a new wage scale and retired players will be getting extra benefits.
Unaddressed in the new labor deal are second-, third- and fourth-year players who have outperformed their rookie contracts. Younger players don’t have the same stature as a Peyton Manning and holdouts usually appear to be money grabs.
The Titan’s Chris Johnson, a first-round pick in 2008 and one of the top NFL rushers last year, isn’t happy with the $800,000 he is set to make this season under his current contract. He hasn’t been back to training camp yet. According to a recent Tennessean article, Johnson’s holdout for a blockbuster contract could be a long one.
Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson is still a no show at camp, upset that his current contract doesn’t pay him what a pro bowler is worth. Jackson was part of a potent offense last year and made other-worldly plays including scoring a touchdown on a punt return that sank the Giants in December 2010.
On the other side of the coin is Arian Foster. Undrafted in 2009 and the NFL rushing king in his second season, Foster was a superstar in 2010 (Note to AF: my fantasy team thanks you). After amassing 1,616 yards rushing and 2,220 total yards and 18 scores, Foster should have had his picture on a video game in 2011. But because he was toiling in the NFL wasteland of Houston, Foster hasn’t achieved the national notoriety he deserves. This season, Foster could have held out but instead stepped up and signed on to a one-year tender for the third-year minimum, which has increased to $525,000 under the new labor deal.
So how does Foster feel about his ‘low’ price tag? “I can’t worry about that. I am tied to the Texans as an exclusive rights free agent and I know they’ll take care of me,” Foster said in a recent interview with Bleacher Report.
Foster’s attitude exudes class. If he can stay healthy, he will get his pay raise. In the meantime, we should all take a moment and appreciate a truly “team first” gesture by a player who is confident he can perform this year as he did last year. This is just the kind of refreshing comment fans needs to shake off the stink of the lockout.