Predicting outcomes for 2021 NFL holdouts
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) warms up before playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

NFL owners created specific language in the collective bargaining agreement to try to prevent NFL holdouts every summer, trying to prevent star players from skipping summer practices over contract demands. Just a few weeks into minicamp, stars like Aaron Rodgers and Stephon Gilmore are skipping camp.

Let’s dive into the NFL holdouts across the league and examine how each scenario could unfold for the respective players and teams.

Aaron Rodgers, quarterback, Green Bay Packers

Typically, NFL holdouts skip minicamp and the training camp to try and land a contract extension. At this point, the Green Bay Packers wish that was the case with Aaron Rodgers. The reigning NFL MVP sought an extension early this offseason, the franchise refused. He’s wanted out ever since and the Packers’ sudden willingness to give him a long-term deal hasn’t changed anything.

Green Bay won’t even entertain the thought, that much is known. The Packers can fine Rodgers more than $90,000 after he missed a three-day minicamp, in addition to the $500,000 workout bonus he forfeited for skipping voluntary camp. For every day of training camp he skips, it’s a $50,000 fine and can reach $500,000.

Ultimately, Rodgers either needs to settle his differences with the Packers and play out the 2021 season or he must sit out. Given retiring would cost him more than $30 million, we predict Aaron Rodgers plays for Green Bay in 2021.


Arizona Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones during Red & White Practice at State Farm Stadium.  Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Cardinals received a ton of praise when they signed J.J. Watt to a two-year. $28 million contract. It was a huge move to improve the defense, but it might prove costly for another reason. Chandler Jones, their best defensive player, is in a contract year and isn’t pleased with his situation.

Jones, a two-time All-Pro selection, is holding out and Arizona doesn’t seem to be in a rush to reward him with a new deal. While he recorded 77 quarterback hits and 49 sacks from 2017-19, injuries derailed his 2020 season and the Cardinals have long-term concerns. Given how far apart both sides are, this likely ends in a trade this summer.


New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore (24) wears a mask prior to the game against the Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium.  Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Stephon Gilmore, the subject of NFL trade rumors since the middle of last season, is skipping Patriots’ minicamp. The 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year wants a salary that properly reflects his talent, far more than the $7 million base figure he is scheduled to earn this season. Until that comes, Gilmore won’t be training with New England and becomes one of the biggest NFL holdouts.

A trade is possible, but the Patriots’ investments on both sides of the ball this season hint Bill Belichick wants to compete. Gilmore is a star in this secondary and even with a slight dip in play, he is crucial to this defense rebounding. Darius Slay signed a three-year, $50 million extension with the Philadelphia Eagles last year, Gilmore should ent a similar figure from new England.


Seattle Seahawks strong safety Jamal Adams (33) walks off the field after win against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.  Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks knew this was coming. Sending two first-round picks in the Jamal Adams trade gave the star safety all the leverage he needed in contract negotiations. In the final year of his rookie deal, Adams wants to become one of the highest-paid safeties in the NFL.

He’s not a traditional player for his position, generating very few plays in coverage but dominating as a pass rusher. Regardless of slight limitations, he has been an All-Pro selection three times. Given what the Seahawks traded to acquire him, this NFL holdout will end in a contract extension. Expect Adams to net $19-20 million per season.


Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25) against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium.  Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Xavien Howard, cornerback, Miami Dolphins

Xavien Howard isn’t happy about being the second-highest-paid cornerback on his own team. Byron Jones ($16.5 million) will make more this season. Howard believes the situation needs to be fixed, especially when comparing their numbers.

On the surface, Howard is in the right and deserves to be Miami’s highest-paid player and it’s why he is among the NFL holdouts. But he signed a five-year, $76.5 million contract extension in 2019 and there are still four years left on that deal. He was also charged for domestic violence, but prosecutors later dropped the case when his fiancée no longer wanted to cooperate with the prosecution.

There’s little incentive for Miami to budge on this, especially given the precedent it would set for players just a year or two into long-term deals. Howard might push for a trade, but it’s difficult to see any team willing to pay a premium pick and then signing him to a precedent-changing contract. Ultimately, Howard needs to just play out the 2021 season.

This article first appeared on Sportsnaut and was syndicated with permission.

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