"He accomplished nothing."
"His holdout was pointless."
"He's not going to get anything out of it."
Those are just three of the phrases I've heard over the past few days as it relates to the ending of Raiders left tackle Donald Penn, who recently reported back to the team after missing all of training camp up until that point.
You'll hear similar comments if and when players like Texans left tackle Duane Brown and Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald report back to their respective teams absent the new contract that each is looking for. Heck, you may even hear stuff like that regarding Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell, although his situation is different in that he does not have a signed contract at this time and is thus not obligated to be with the team nor subject to fines for his absence.
Plus, Bell has already publicly declared he's showing up on Sept. 1, the day after the Steelers' final preseason game, so we know what his status is moving forward.
The truth is, even if the three linemen don't get upgraded contracts, I'd argue that they still got something pretty good out of it. A lot of things, actually.
For one, they got to miss out on by far the worst four weeks of their job. Even though NFL training camps aren't what they used to be, it is still a laborious grind in which you are working from roughly 6 a.m.-10 p.m. every day and doing all of this away from your family.
Think about it this way: What would you do to not have to endure the worst four weeks of your job? My guess is a lot.
Then there is the wear and tear factor combined with the injury risk. Every time you take the field in practice going against 89 other guys trying to make the team, there is a risk of injury; that is especially the case during the live tackling of the preseason games, as injuries to starters like Julian Edelman, Spencer Ware and Cam Meredith during Week 3 demonstrated.
And even if you don't suffer an injury, training camp still takes a toll on your body.
For each one who has held out, he owned that time, something that is a very precious commodity. I know that I personally value this time more and more with each passing year. I was once told that compensation comes in many forms, and so even if the team doesn't give you a new deal, you are letting them know that you aren't happy, while getting all the other benefits already mentioned.
Those benefits are contingent upon there being no repercussions, however. NFL teams can fine the players $40,000 per day under the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), if they are so inclined. But the truth is they rarely do that, especially for star players like Donald or respected long-time starters like Brown and Penn.
Because of that and the new CTE study, I wouldn't be surprised if more players attempt the tactic next year. Why absorb more hits to the head during training camp that you aren't really getting paid for it?
For players like Brown and Penn that have each already made over $30 million, is it really worth taking punishment for far less than what their current market value would be based on the contracts signed by guys like Riley Reiff and Matt Kalil?
Penn has already answered that question with a yes and my guess is Brown will ultimately do the same once the real paychecks start coming -- but the point is that they are each doing it on their own terms because they can.
And even if they don't get a new deal, they are still getting a number of benefits from sitting out the worst part of the job for an NFL player.
Just like you'd love to do. If you could.