Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Legal Woes to Affect Santonio Holmes' Rookie Contract

Santonio Holmes' bad judgment is going to cost him money. Thanks to getting arrested (twice) before signing his rookie contract the Steelers are going to play hardball when it comes to negotiations. First, it's almost a certainty that the Steelers will insist on spreading his signing bonus over two or more seasons, saving the team money if it has to cut him for behavioral or performance reasons. Second, the Steelers will now be highly motivated to add conduct-related clauses that protect the team in case Holmes can't stay out of trouble with the law. Expect Holmes' agent to be a little more flexible than he ordinarily would. I'm sure he wants to get Holmes signed before anything else goes wrong.

What if Holmes gets arrested a third time before getting his name on a contract? In a worst-case scenario the Steelers could decide not to sign Holmes at all. It's hard to imagine any NFL team giving up on a first-round draft choice so soon, but it's not impossible. If the Steelers refused to sign Holmes I believe he would have to sit out the 2006 season and re-enter the draft in 2007. Not only would Holmes lose the money he would have earned in '06, you can bet no team would select him on the first day of the draft in 2007. I suppose the Steelers could also try to trade his rights, but under the circumstances, he wouldn't have much value.


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