Let me start off by saying that I'm not one of these people who thinks players are always wrong to hold out. Sometimes you'll hear fans and teams indignant that a guy would not "honor the contract he signed," but the fact is that teams often don't honor contracts. They'll cut guys with years left and not be on the hook for anything. So there is really isn't much sanctity in contracts in the NFL.
Further, holding out is the one real bit of leverage a player under contract can use. So I get why they do it. Having said that, it's hard to see how DeSean Jackson holding out right now makes sense. To explain why, we'd have to start with the owners opting out of the old CBA. When they did, a number of rules went into affect that put constraints on player movement and contract that were basically designed to get the sides to do a new CBA quicker. One of those constraints was the "30% rule." Andrew Brandt explains what that was.
The 30-percent rule, found in Article XXIV, Section 8 (b) of the CBA, states that renegotiations/extensions entered into in the 2010 league year may not increase per year from 2009 to 2010 or beyond more than 30 percent of the 2009 salary. For example, if the 2009 salary is $2M, the maximum available in 2010 is $2.6M, in 2011 it’s $3.2M, etc.
The idea behind the rule was to prevent teams from dumping huge amounts of money into a contract in an uncapped year to get a guy cheap in later years of the contract when the cap would return. So last year DeSean Jackson was making $440,000 in base salary, meaning that any extension he got would have been only allowed to add $130-$150K to his salary per year. Obviously, that was never an option.
Then came the lockout and teams weren't even allowed to discuss deals, so obviously nothing could have happened then. Fast forward to now, the league opened for business yesterday morning. Teams can discuss deals and sign them on Friday. Now, I think it's a fair assumption given that the Eagles need to find 50 players in 48 hours and Drew Rosenhaus has scores of players that are free agents, the two sides have not likely had a chance to have a meaningful discussion yet.
And DeSean is going to choose to hold out now? I get why players hold out when negotiations aren't going their way or the team isn't budging. But to hold out before that happens? I just don't see how that makes any sense.
Now, I'm not being totally naive here. I am sure that even though they couldn't have gotten a deal done prior to the lockout, that Drew Rosenhaus at least gave the Eagles some idea of what DeSean is looking for. But that still doesn't explain DeSean's thinking with what can only be described as a preemptive holdout.
In the end, I'm sure a deal will get done. Both sides are motivated here. It's not like there's any doubt that Jackson is underpaid and deserves a new deal. The Eagles have always been a team that wants to lock up it's young talent before they hit free agency. In fact, if it weren't for this whole labor dispute I'm almost sure a deal would have been done last year.