There are a handful of players in the NFL who are currently holding out of offseason practices for their respective teams. These players want a lucrative long-term contract extension or an adjustment to their current contract that pays them more money. Many of these players are well-known across the league and consistently perform at a high level, so this has created interest among NFL spectators and teams. Here are some of the most notable holdouts of the 2018 offseason:
1. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers' star running back has been in contract standoffs with his team since the 2016 offseason. Pittsburgh placed the franchise tag on him for the second straight year, and the two sides failed to come to an agreement on a long-term deal. Bell was reportedly seeking nothing less than $14.5 million per season, even though this amount is $6 million more than the annual salary of the previous highest-paid running back in the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons' Devonta Freeman.
However, the Los Angeles Rams shocked the rest of the NFL by signing Todd Gurley to an extension that will pay him $15 million per year, resetting the NFL running back market. Bell noticed this and praised the Rams' decision. The sixth-year veteran will play under the franchise tag again, and the Steelers stated they will attempt to work out a long-term contract with Bell again next offseason.
2. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Julio Jones is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Atlanta's most notable offensive stalwart received a five-year $71.5 million contract extension in 2015, but he is holding out in hopes of receiving an adjustment to his already sizable contract that will result in a pay raise. The wide receiver market exploded this offseason as Jones quickly found himself overtaken by his peers. He is widely considered to be a top 3 NFL receiver and wishes to be paid like one. Jones has stated that he wants to play his entire career in Atlanta, so why else would he be holding out?
3. Aaron Donald, DE, Los Angeles Rams
The Rams' defensive end has been one of the most disruptive players in the NFL since he arrived on the scene. The 2017 NFL Defensive Player of the Year is entering a contract year and wishes to be given a high-level contract that matches his elite production. With teammates Gurley and Brandin Cooks receiving massive extensions and taking up significant cap space in the foreseeable future, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the Rams to negotiate a proper compensation for Donald.
4. Khalil Mack, DE, Oakland Raiders
Khalil Mack has established himself as one of the premier edge rushers in the NFL, a one-man wrecking crew and the Oakland Raiders' best defensive player by a wide margin. Like Jones, Mack has stated that he wants to play with his current team for his entire career but seeks to be rewarded handsomely for his production. Mack has racked up 70+ tackles and 10+ sacks for three straight seasons, so it is no wonder he craves a lofty contract extension.
5. Earl Thomas, FS, Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks' perennial All-Pro free safety has held out of offseason activities while sending messages to teams like Oakland and the Dallas Cowboys to acquire him. There are few safeties like Thomas in the NFL and he wants financial security for the future, so Seattle has to either give him the contract extension he desires or trade him to another team and receive valuable compensation.