In the past, NFL players used to wait with bated breath until the day they became an unrestricted free agent. Then they could essentially go to the highest bidder. A look at this years free agents tells us that free agency is no longer the best way to get the best deal. For example, Greg Jennings passed on an offer in 2012, when Jennings was near his bargaining peak, a source said talks on a multiyear extension ended when he turned down $11 million per year from the Packers, which was far less than the $15 million that he told the team he was seeking. He ended up taking an offer with the Minnesota Vikings that averaged about $9 million. He received a $10 million signing bonus and guarantees worth $18 million. Jennings was far from the only player to pass up a much better deal. Cliff Avril passed on the Detroit Lions offer of a 3 year $30 million deal, with $20 million of that guaranteed. He ended up signing a deal in Seattle worth $13 million, with $11 million in guaranteed money and a little over $2 million available in incentives and escalators.
Sure Mike Wallace received a big deal from the desperate Miami Dolphins but it’s easy to see free agency is no longer the way to “get rich”. The way to make the most money in today’s NFL is by agreeing to a deal with your current team. Unless you have leverage, which is rare, or you’re a proven quarterback you’re best bet is to stay put and take the money.
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