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Contract disputes steal the spotlight from start of NFL training camp

NFL camps open this week with most of the focus on players who aren’t showing up.

All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones skipped Sunday’s first workout with the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs over a contract dispute.

Veterans with the New York Giants and Las Vegas Raiders are scheduled to report on Tuesday, but Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs are expected to hold out because they didn’t receive long-term deals after getting the franchise tag. Both star running backs would earn $10.1 million this season under the tag.

Neither Barkley nor Jacobs signed the franchise tender, which means they wouldn’t be fined for missing practices. They’d lose $560,611 per game if they sit out during the season.

Holdouts are nothing new in the NFL and they used to be more common decades ago. Jones is due to make $19.5 million in base salary this season and carries a salary cap hit of almost $28.3 million, so the Chiefs are motivated to get a new deal done. He faces a mandatory fine of $50,000 per day.

“Look, we love Chris Jones and when he decides to report, we’ll welcome him,” Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said. “I don’t want to get into speculating on when that’ll happen, or if it’ll happen.”

Barkley and Jacobs are a different story. They’re angry and frustrated. They feel undervalued and underappreciated. So do many of their peers around the league.

“There’s really nothing we can do,” Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb said Sunday after he took part in a Zoom call with several backs around the league on Saturday. “We’re kind of handcuffed with the situation.”

It’s expected Barkley and Jacobs will eventually report. Missing games only costs them money they’ll never regain. But there’s no incentive for them to show up before September.

The biggest story line beyond holdout players surrounds Aaron Rodgers, the New York Jets and their appearance on HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” Rodgers and the Jets already were going to be under the microscope. Now, television cameras will be there to follow them every step of the way.

Jets coach Robert Saleh downplayed any added pressure to win because of Rodgers.

“What I’ve noticed in New York is that they really don’t care,” he said. “You’re either winning or you’re not, it doesn’t matter who you’ve got. The expectation to win is constant in this league. You’ve always got that monkey on your back, like you’ve got to get that result. I’ve said it before — as important as the result is, if that’s your only focus, you’re going to skip on the process that it takes to get that result that you want, so the pressure lies in how you handle the day, how you’re getting better.”

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs reported last week, eager to get working on becoming the first team to repeat since the New England Patriots in 2003 and ’04.

“It’s hard to win the Super Bowl,” Mahomes said. “I think I’ve noticed that from my first one to my second, you can do everything the right way and you don’t win.”

The Philadelphia Eagles, who report Tuesday, are aiming to become the first team since the 2018 Patriots and fourth ever to win a Super Bowl the year after losing one.

“This team has to find an identity for itself,” Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts said.

Plenty of eyes in camp will be on rookie QBs Bryce Young in Carolina, C.J. Stroud in Houston and Anthony Richardson in Indianapolis.

Young, the No. 1 overall pick, already took over first-team reps in the offseason and appears headed to start Week 1. Stroud, the No. 2 pick, should get a similar opportunity with the Texans and first-year coach DeMeco Ryans. Richardson, who was picked fourth and didn’t have much playing experience in college at Florida, probably won’t start right away for the Colts but he’s expected to supplant veteran Gardner Minshew at some point.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson runs drills at the team's training camp on Sunday in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson runs drills at the team’s training camp on Sunday in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

BROWNS: Deshaun Watson’s second summer with Cleveland is nothing like his first. A year ago, the quarterback was enveloped in uncertainty while waiting to see if the NFL would punish him. The league did, suspending him for 11 games after two dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct and assault during massage therapy sessions while he played for Houston. Watson said the time away changed him for the better and he’s trying to move forward in a positive way.

BENGALS: Owner Mike Brown and other Cincinnati executives are staying quiet about the state of contract negotiations with Joe Burrow. Signing the franchise quarterback to an extension was a goal of the team this summer. Both sides have done an incredible job of keeping details of the progress locked down tight. Brown answered questions from the media on Monday but refused to talk about Burrow’s contract.

DOLPHINS: Miami wide receiver Tyreek Hill has resolved his dispute with a man he was accused of assaulting at a marina. Hill’s attorney and the lawyer for the man, who works for a charter company at Haulover Marina in Miami, released a statement to ESPN on Monday. Hill had been under investigation by Miami-Dade police for assault and battery after it was reported that he got into an argument with the employee.

BILLS: According to an AP source, Buffalo running back Nyheim Hines will miss the season after he sustained a serious knee injury when he was hit by a jet ski. The Bills were counting on utilizing the 26-year-old Hines’ speed and pass-catching abilities to play a multifaceted role in their offense and on special teams. Hines was sitting on a stationary jet ski when he was struck by another water scooter.

BRONCOS: The NFL has indefinitely suspended Denver defensive lineman Eyioma Uwazurike for betting on league games during the 2022 season. Uwazurike, a fourth-round draft pick from Iowa State in 2022, becomes the 10th player this offseason to be suspended for gambling on games or in NFL locker rooms.

PACKERS: Green Bay CEO Mark Murphy said it will probably take “at least half a season” for the team to know what it has in new starting quarterback Jordan Love. Murphy noted the parallels to 2008. That’s when Aaron Rodgers took over as Packers starting quarterback after backing up Hall of Famer Brett Favre for three seasons.

TEXANS: Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud agreed to a $36 million deal with Houston, according to an AP source. Stroud, who was drafted second overall, is expected to replace Davis Mills, who struggled as the Texans’ starter for the last two seasons. Mills went 5-22-1 in 28 games, including 26 starts, as the Texans were among the NFL’s worst teams.

COLTS: Rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, the fourth overall pick in the NFL draft, agreed to a $34 million contract with Indianapolis. The Colts are counting on Richardson, the former Florida star, to provide some long-term stability at the sport’s most important position.

RAIDERS: Las Vegas signed two-time All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters in an effort to address one of its most pressing needs. The 30-year-old Peters will be among the veterans who reports to the club on Tuesday. Training camp opens Wednesday for the Raiders.

SEAHAWKS: Seattle locked up edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu for the next three seasons, agreeing to an extension worth up to $59 million on the cusp of training camp. Nwosu’s deal includes $32. Seattle’s players report for camp on Tuesday with the first on-field work slated for Wednesday.

LIONS: Detroit defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson does not have structural damage to his right knee, according to an AP source. Gardner-Johnson was carted off the field during the second day of camp after grabbing his knee during a noncontact drill.

Running back Saquon Barkley and the New York Giants failed to reach an agreement on a long-term contract extension by the July 17 deadline for franchised players, leaving the star running back with the option of playing for the tag-mandated $10.1 million salary or maybe taking the season off.

Running back Saquon Barkley and the New York Giants failed to reach an agreement on a long-term contract extension by the July 17 deadline for franchised players, leaving the star running back with the option of playing for the tag-mandated $10.1 million salary or maybe taking the season off.

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