New York Jets running back Leon Washington was arguably one of the best players to take the field for the team last season. Not that you can tell from the treatment he is getting from the Jets as his contract negotiations drag on seemingly forever.
Just days before the start of camp it was reported that a deal would likely be completed by the start of training camp. Training camp started 12 days ago and Washington is still waiting.
Washington has averaged 190 touches per season in his first three years, had 195 touches, including a career-high 151 carries, as a rookie in 2006. He hasn’t missed a game in his career (49 games). Washington has done all that has been asked and then some, so why is it that he can’t get a deal done?
Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be such a complicated deal, but the financial landscape has changed because of a rule change in the collective bargaining agreement. Washington will be a restricted free agent in 2010, not unrestricted, and the Jets can retain him for a qualifying offer that would be significantly less than a long-term deal. Under the previous rules – it changed because 2010 looms as an uncapped year – he would have been unrestricted next year.
Changes to the CBA rules haven’t prevented others from getting deals. Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings and Jaguars running Maurice Jones-Drew got big-money contracts, even though they faced the same situation confronting Leon Washington and the Jets.
Washington considered a hold out, and even delayed his appearance at training camp one day, but chose to do the stand up thing and showed up in time for the first day of practice. This might be a decision Washington may soon regret as wide receiver Roddy White of the Falcons signed to a six-year, $50 million extension ($18 million guaranteed) on Saturday after a week-long holdout.
What I find ironic in all this is the fact that general manager Mike Tannenbaum reportedly wants to reward Washington’s play as an example to the other players. In Tannenbaums' defense, it has been an awful long time since this organization has had such dynamic talent to reward…so maybe he’s a bit out of practice.
Here’s a little help for you Mike, what you do here is grab a check, a pen and you sign on the bottom line.
Just let Leon fill in the rest.
Everything will work out just fine.
Xander Diaz is Editor-In-Chief at AFCBeast.com