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Ranking the NFL Training Camp Holdouts Most Likely to Succeed

While we think all holdouts are good, some have a better chance at ultimately yielding the desired result—a new and better contract. Which players holding out this year are most likely to get more money?

This here is a safe space for NFL holdouts, so for those wondering if the following will be an outstretched hand for shut up and play management types to use as a boost, you may want to skip to the links portion of the program.

Every player not in imminent danger of being replaceable should hold out. Aaron Rodgers should hold out every year. Baker Mayfield should hold out. Saquon Barkley should hold out. If the Cowboys’ callous release of Allen Hurns this week (who was reportedly signed by the Dolphins on Friday) doesn’t reaffirm the state of play around the league, that any glimmer of replaceability will be exploited emotionally and financially, than nothing will. If your team needs you, hold out.

That’s why, yes, even Melvin Gordon should hold out, as he’s been doing. He probably won’t get what he’s looking for, but he’ll get access to a version of the truth that he wouldn’t get otherwise. At the most extreme case, maybe he could make himself an interesting commodity on the desperate-team-compensating-for-injury market.

As training camps begin around the league this week, there are six high-profile holdouts hoping for new deals or a better situation. And while all holdouts are good, some are better than others and have a greater chance of ultimately succeeding. Here’s a ranking of those holdouts, with an eye toward Week 1, which is now only 41 days away.

1. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys: While his off-field behavior is a complicating factor for Dallas and should give them pause at the negotiating table, this offense would be ultimately rudderless without him. Everything is riding on this season in Dallas, while, on a parallel track, Elliott’s mileage is riding high without any long-term compensation on the horizon.

2. Trent Williams, OT, Washington: Curveball here, but if Washington is hoping to legitimize the Dwayne Haskins pick right away, you’re going to need one of the best offensive tackles in football. Williams has been one of the most consistently good things about a bad franchise for years.

3. Michael Thomas, WR, Saints: Similar to Elliott, things are coming to a logical decision point in New Orleans. Drew Brees’s age, and the fading affordability of this talented young roster are closing in on Sean Payton. Do you pacify Thomas to ensure he’s ready for what may be a final run at Super Bowl No. 2?

4. Jadeveon Clowney, Edge, Texans: J.J. Watt played at an elite level last season, but Clowney is four years younger and adds a different dimension to Houston’s defense. This one seems to be headed for a long-term impasse, eventually sending Clowney to free agency.

5. Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Jaguars: Jacksonville is one of a few teams approaching major decisions on high-profile defensive talent. Jalen Ramsey and Ngakoue both play essential positions and have both been elite-level talents. That being said, everything seems to be building toward 2019, and the Jaguars stumbled into an extraordinary pass-rushing talent in Josh Allen to kick off their campaign.

6. Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers: Gordon, ultimately, is the low man on the totem pole here. Though he may ultimately improve his situation somehow, the Chargers are headed by a career NFL running back and running backs coach, who has two capable backs behind Gordon on the depth chart. 

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1. The Quinnen Williams not-really-a-holdout holdout ends.

2. Taylor Lewan is going down swinging on his PED suspension.

3. A particularly insane stretch of NFL Network’s top 100 players list.

4. QB BATTLES: Fitzpatrick over Rosen on Day One.

5. Sneaky love for a collegiate QB playing in Hawaii.


We don’t know how lucky we are

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