Around the NFL
Packers have more leverage than Grant
Posted Jun. 17 at 01:46 PM
There are plenty of players around the league who are unhappy with their contracts – Chad Johnson, Earnest Graham, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Jeff Garcia and Plaxico Burress come to mind.
But Ryan Grant is a different kind of case, because of his rise from obscurity. Grant wants a new, more lucrative deal, and he’s deserving of one, but he has very little leverage because of the way he snuck up on the league. Grant, recall, is a former undrafted free agent who was traded to the Packers just prior to opening day last year (the Giants were overloaded with running backs, so they didn’t need him). And because Grant doesn’t have three years of NFL experience, the Packers have offered him a one-year tender worth $370,000 for the 2008 season; Grant hasn’t signed that tender yet, but he can’t negotiate with other teams.
If the Packers were to dig in their heels and essentially force Grant to play for that $370,000 offer, even at the end of the year his negotiating position wouldn’t really be much better. At that time, he’d still be an exclusive rights free agent, meaning he can’t even negotiate with other teams – he pretty much has to play for whatever the Packers want to offer him. And even if he were to then again sign a one-year deal that year, Grant would only a restricted free agent following the 2010 season, so the Packers would still have the upper hand in negotiations.
So while it seems strange – it is strange – the Packers can prevent Grant from being an unrestricted free agent until 2011, at which time he’ll be 28 years old.
Grant probably would like to sign a contract on par with what Michael Turner got from Atlanta – something along the lines of $6 million per year, with $15 million in guaranteed money. But it will be tough for him to get anything close to that kind of money because the Packers have all the leverage. They’ll be willing to give him a raise, but since there’s no other team bidding for Grant, the Packers won’t feel pressured to overpay for him.
Grant’s only major chip in negotiations is to withhold his services, but that’s always a dangerous path to take. The Packers don’t really need him in camp before mid-August, so they have the flexibility to give extra reps to Brandon Jackson and DeShawn Wynn, with a coach occasionally tossing out a juicy quote about how much better and more comfortable those backs look in their second years.
Antonio Gates was in the same position as Grant a few years back. He wound up holding out long enough that he missed the first game of the season and had to sign a deal that was worth less than what he truly deserved.
We’re not overly concerned about Grant’s contract situation – the two sides should get something done – but there’s a chance it will get ugly.
To see an Associated Press story on Grant and his contract situation click here.
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