Ray Edwards has chosen not to participate in voluntary off-season workouts to this point, and has no inclination to sign his restricted free agent tender anytime soon. He has been unhappy with a couple things, near as I can tell. One, when he signed his rookie contract, the labor agreement in place at the time would allow him to become an unrestricted free agent after his fourth season…unless the labor contract got voided, which it did. When that happened, unrestricted free agency went from four years to six years, making Ray and well over 100 other NFL players restricted free agents.
There’s a big difference in restricted free agency and unrestricted free agency in terms of compensation, and the tools available to teams to keep players in the fold. If Edwards had been approaching unrestricted free agency, the only options the Vikings would have had available to them to keep Edwards a Viking is to either sign him to a long term deal, or designate him their franchise or transition player. Had the Vikings put a franchise/transition tag on Ray, his one year salary would’ve been a whopping $12.4 million with the franchise, or $10.2 million with the transition tag.
I doubt the Vikings would have been able to afford that, and as I think they value Edwards, a long term contract extension would seem like the logical decision, as Edwards has played well since being drafted in 2006. I don’t know what the parameters of the deal would be, but quality defensive ends are hard to find, and Edwards has been a productive player for the Vikings. Let’s look at the Jared Allen contract, which was a 6 year, $72 million dollar deal with $31 million in guaranteed money. Julius Peppers signed a $91 million deal, with $40 million guaranteed. Big contracts for the two best defensive ends in the game, to be sure, and numbers that might help determine what Edwards could get in free agency. I’m just spitballing here, but is a four or five year deal for Ray with $15’ish million guaranteed a realistic number? I think it is, which kind of gets me to my point, in a ‘let’s go through Canada to get to Mexico’ fashion.
I think Ray Edwards has every right to skip voluntary workouts.
Ray lost a lot of money in this uncapped year crap that’s going down in the NFL, and quite frankly the Vikings were smart not to extend him until they have to. For one, no one really knew what to expect with an uncapped year, remember? Yeah, it was a whole lot of nothing, but some folks were running around like it was another Y2K disaster in the making. Oh, and there’s this potential NFL lockout that is hanging over the NFL like Jack Kevorkian over someone with a cold. That tends to cloud long term contract talks as well. Yes, you want to reward a player for good performance, and in Edwards’ case, his salary is increasing by over $1 million, but in the modern NFL, the goal of the player is to get as much as possible as early as possible, because the next snap could be your last.
In this case, both the team and the player are doing what is in their best interest, and trying to read between the lines of what Brad Childress is thinking, he doesn’t seem too upset. When asked about Edwards holding out, Chilly said:
"I wouldn't be surprised to see him show up at some point and time. I know I don't have to worry about Ray from a physical fitness standpoint. He's doing all the things he needs to do."
Does that sound like a coach who’s mad that one of his starters is holding out? And is Edwards really holding out? No, he's not. He’s not attending VOLUNTARY off-season workouts. Woo. Hoo.
I don’t see this as a bad attitude, I see this as a guy who is making a lot less money than he thought he would be at this point in his career, and he’s upset about it. The only way a player has to show his displeasure is to not show up for stuff, and voluntary workouts are harmless, if you ask me.
I think what will happen is that sometime during the course of the season, the Vikings will work out a contract extension, Edwards will get paid, and everyone will be happy. Or he’ll hold out into training camp and everyone will get really pissed off at each other. But the Vikings have a contingency plan for that, too. His name is Everson Griffen.
See you at the mandatory OTA's and training camp, Ray.