Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

02 Aug 2005

Patriots Agree to New Deal for Holdout DL Seymour

Sorry holdout fans, Richard Seymour will be reporting to Patriot camp on Wednesday. At least you still have Brian Westbrook and Hines Ward staying away from camp looking for new deals.

Posted by: Al Bogdan on 02 Aug 2005

18 comments, Last at 05 Aug 2005, 1:33am by MarkB


by Pats on the Potomac (not verified) :: Tue, 08/02/2005 - 1:59pm

Yeah, Richard! Best D-Line in the game. Plus, my brother can wear the Seymour 93 throwback jersey I bought him for his birthday now.

by Theo (not verified) :: Tue, 08/02/2005 - 2:21pm

If this trend really sets through; in about 2 years we have an All Holdout Team.

"If there WAS a team willing to pay these players, they could have had: Ward, TO, Westbrook, Seymour, Taylor, Alex Smith and the entire NHL league!!"

by Stiller Fan in Cle (not verified) :: Tue, 08/02/2005 - 3:46pm

This almost seems to be a case of 'I don't want to run wind sprints' as much as 'I'm unhappy with my contract.'

A random musing on the Hines Ward deal: Why would you hold out with one year left? With unrestricted free agency on the horizon, wouldn't it just make more sense to play the year? It seem that access to the free market would be much better leverage than holding out. Especially with the Steelers, who won't pay him what he wants. Steeler WR's under the cap who didn't get what they wanted: Thigpen, Shaw, Burress, Mills, Graham. Now that I think about it, Steeler WR has been a prety fung....fluid position. Anyway, I think Hines is going to lose because finishing the contract has to be too tempting to hold out for.

by RowdyRoddyPiper (not verified) :: Tue, 08/02/2005 - 4:06pm

I don't think Ward plans on holding out of the Season, he will lose too much money, he won't get credited for the year on his contract so he won't become a free agent.

Staying out of training camp is a low risk way for him to make a statement. I think he'll be in by the end of the week anyway. Hopefully there's some behind the scenes magic going on.

by Jon (not verified) :: Tue, 08/02/2005 - 4:19pm

The logic of the holdout seems pretty unassailable to me, it's an inevitable consequence of the no-guaranteed--contracts system. His salary is $1.6 million, whereas he could get a potential signing bonus of $10 million+ (the notoriously cheap steelers offered him $9 million). If he plays without a new contract, and then in week 3 Rodney Harrison drives him skull-first into the ground, or in week 12 he cuts on the Indianapolis turf and his knee and leg go in separate directions, his spring signing bonus will be exactly zero. So every time he steps onto the field without a new contract, he'd be risking > $10 million in order to earn $1.6 million.

by Jon (not verified) :: Tue, 08/02/2005 - 4:26pm

Re: #4, whoops, I didn't realize that under the CBA Ward wouldn't become a free agent if he sat out the year. Man, the NFLPA are a bunch of doormats.

by Paul (not verified) :: Tue, 08/02/2005 - 10:50pm

If the Steelers don't meet Ward at least in the middle, the Steelers are going to find it difficult to ever bring in top notch WRs. Now in Pittsburgh, that's not that big a deal, but if there wasn't a Lipps, Thigpen, Ward or Burress, the running game never gets started with 10 men in the box. Exaggeration yes, but not by much.
Pittsburgh already has a reputation for rookies building their rep then going elsewhere for the money (See Pirates, even Penguins, and for that matter, Steelers) With the cap, Steelers at least manage to be competitive.
I hate living outside of PA during football season(I'm in FL--I don't want to know about Ricky Williams or John Gruden) because I'd really like to know what the rest of PA is saying about this. (I'm on Ward's side here--he's basically asking for market rate, blame the other owners for inflating the worth of WRs)

by Jim A (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 1:45am

So what does this say about the "a contract is a contract and the player should honor its terms" argument if the preeminent team in the NFL allows its player to force a new deal with a holdout? Why is nobody saying the Pats caved after a few days like people did with TO and Javon Walker when they reported to camp?

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 9:37am

Jim A (#8 )--

Well, it's not like holdouts have never gotten paid before.

Truth be told, the difference between Seymour (entering the fifth year of a 6-year rookie contract), Owens (second year of a free-agent* deal) makes the different positions of the Patriots and Eagles sensible to me. Seymour and Patriots also had the sense to limit the publicity of the holdout, rather than trade barbs in the press. You know, flies. Honey. Vinegar.

*Yes, Owens's free-agent deal was hammered out under bizzarre circumstances -- but that was at least partly Owens's fault and that of his agent.

by kris (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 12:57pm

I disagree with #7's claim that the Steelers have a reputation for building up rookies that go on to other teams. This is a stereotype of the Steelers that doesn't hold up to the facts.

The Steelers are not as freewheeling as other clubs when it has come to signing veterans, their own or free agents, to expensive contracts, true. But in my view, they have been extremely smart in negotiating free agency.

To rebut the specific point: name the players the Steelers have not re-signed, who went elsewhere and did well? It's a short list, surprisingly shorter, and considerably less spectacular, than a list drawn from any other franchise. I'll concede that they probably should have kept Rod Woodson, and possibly should have kept Neil O'Donnell, but they also can't be blamed for letting either guy go, given what they thought at the time.

Other players (Carnell Lake, Leon Searcy, Yancey Thigpen) did not distinguish themselves with their new teams, who grossly overpaid for their services.

by MJB (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 3:52pm

kris, here is a name for you. Mike Vrabel. How about an other, Brenson Buckner. And those are just off the top of my head.

by MarkB (not verified) :: Wed, 08/03/2005 - 11:41pm

Why is nobody saying the Pats caved after a few days like people did with TO and Javon Walker when they reported to camp?

The Pats didn't give Seymour a long term extention with a big bonus up front - they only gave him a raise this year. That gives them another year to watch the progress of their other young linemen. Whereas Seymour got no new security, he only gets this year - which the Pats were going to pay anyway. Belichik/Pioli did what was in the team's interest to do. The key is no long term money weighing them down. If that's a cave, I'll take it. If you want to know if they cave, ask L. Milloy and T. Law.

by hwc (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2005 - 4:15am

RE: #5

The risk of injury is the incentive for a player to sign a deal early with his current team. That way the team assumes the risk of injury, not the player.

However, successful negotiations must be win/win deals. So, in exchange for an early extension, the player has to be willing to sign for less than he would get in free agent bidding. Especially when the player is already under contract for dollars favorable for the team.

If the player wants both the protection of an early extension AND free agent bidding money, there is nothing in it for the team. They might as well just let the contract run and sign the player in free agency, if they choose to bid that high.

Ask Ty Law. He walked away from about $8 million guaranteed for 2005 with the Pats when he called the early extension offer "insulting". Then, he suffers and potentially career-ending injury and will be lucky to get a quarter of that money for this year. Great job, Poston Brothers.

by ima pseudonyn (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2005 - 12:24pm

Re #12: giving Seymour extra cash without getting any sort of extension from him seems like the worst sort of cave to me. It would be one thing if they gave him extra cash now in exchange for a few more years at an affordable rate, but why give him extra money just to honor a contract he already signed.

The lesson here seems to be to threaten to hold out one year before your contract year. In a contract year, the pats could assume he would play all-out to make sure he gets a big free agent deal. But Seymour's threats to only put in the minimum commitment to accrue another year seem to have been taken a bit more seriously, given that a poor performance this year wouldn't hurt him on the free agent market if he plays well next year. It seems to me that unlike Milloy and Law, Seymour (or his agent) recognized when he had the leverage, used it wisely, and got the Pats to make like Paris Hilton on a first date.

Anybody know what Ted Johnson's cap number was for this year? Did they just hand Johnson's cap space to Seymour, figuring a happier star lineman was better than a replacement level lb?

by Jim A (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2005 - 2:09pm

It doesn't really matter whether Seymour or Owens were deserving of a new contract, or whether Seymour got a pay raise of 1% or 100%. The issue is whether the player holdout while under contract is a legitimate business strategy or something evil akin to extortion or kidnapping. The Patriots apparently chose to recognize the holdout, which does little to discourage others from using similar tactics.

by MarkB (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2005 - 6:58pm

Seymout was never going to stay out. Sitting out is a financial loser, and unless you're Barry Sanders it makes not sense to do. The Patriots were already working on a redo for Seymour - it was well publicized. They redid Bobby Hamilton and Otis Smith after the first Superbowl - no big deal. . And unlike the Iggles, they never said that they wouldn't deal with a holdout.

Remember, the Pats humiliated the Colts and slammed the Steelers without Seymour. When the day comes when he won't be reasonable, he'll be gone.

by somebody (not verified) :: Thu, 08/04/2005 - 9:43pm

Who's the highest paid defensive tackle anyway?

by MarkB (not verified) :: Fri, 08/05/2005 - 1:33am

Marcus Stroud signed a five-year, $31.5 million contract extension with the Jacksonville Jaguars yesterday, becoming one of the highest-paid defensive tackles in the NFL.

Stroud and the team began negotiations last August, with the 6-foot-6, 312-pound lineman wanting to become the highest-paid defensive tackle.

Detroit's Shaun Rogers signed a six-year, $46 million contract in January.

Stroud's contract includes $12.5 million in bonuses – most of which will be paid in three installments. He gets $6.5 million now, $3.2 million in five days and $2.5 million after the season. Stroud also has $300,000 in workout bonuses.


It was noted in the Boston media that Stroud's big payday was what set off Seymour - his former Georgia teammate. Now he's back in camp with no signing bonus, and no other future guaranteed money - "just" an additional one million for this year.