The season for holdouts is here. When training camps start in about two weeks, they’ll almost surely begin with Matt Forte absent in Chicago, meaning one of the league’s marquee running backs will be protesting by doing nothing.

There will be plenty of time to dissect Forte’s situation further, and plenty of time to worry about the state of the world’s axis if Drew Brees isn’t under contract by Monday. But right now, the most intriguing potential holdout is Ed Reed, who’s cryptically hinted at sitting out and possibly demanding a contract extension.

Reed hasn’t committed to that direction yet, since stealth and saying little is often a player’s best weapon in the early days of a potential standoff. But he’s still saying something by saying nothing, and he’s still not confirming or denying that he’ll holdout after he missed the Ravens’ three-day minicamp.

During a radio interview yesterday the future Hall of Fame safety who has 57 interceptions over 144 career games continued his non-committal stance. But he seemed very fond of the holdout option, saying it’s a player’s only leverage, and it’s often very effective.

From the Baltimore Sun:

“The only way we protect ourselves, … the only way a player gets what he wants is by holding out. So if Ray Rice doesn’t show up, so be it. If Joe Flacco didn’t show up and got a contract, so be it.”

Frankly, he’s right. Too often fans who regularly breathe through their mouths watch these disputes from afar, and wonder why those dirty, no good, filthy rich players want more money to play a game that they play in their backyard for fun while holding a Bud Light and shouting “Huurahhh!” every few minutes (USA! USA!).

While there are times when that thinking is appropriate, far more often that’s a small-minded view. Players didn’t set the market for their salaries. The rich owners who are aggressive in their efforts to win a championship and add to their riches did, and the players are just the beneficiaries of a system that rewards elite talent with elite money. If you feel as though you’ve had a good year at your place of work, then during your next job review you’ll be asking for more money, and that same core, basic principle exists here.

However, for Reed specifically a powerplay now seems ill-timed. While he’s still the league’s best safety when he’s healthy, staying upright and on the field continues to be a problem. He was injured during the playoffs last year and wasn’t the same Reed as the post-season progressed, and he’s missed eight games since 2009.

He’ll make $7.2 million this year in the final season of his current contract. The money doesn’t seem to be the issue here, and instead it’s the term, with Reed frustrated about his lack of long-term security. And to that the Ravens are surely saying and thinking that as long as he’s playing professional football, they want him to do it as a Raven. But they also need him to demonstrate some durability over the next year before they make any kind of commitment to a player at a highly physical position who will turn 34 in September.

While Reed’s desire for security is understandable, his timing with a potential holdout isn’t. Stay healthy for another year, Ed, and then get paid.

And now the links part of the links post…

  • There are many reasons to be hopelessly addicted to NFL football, chief among them being an excuse to devour Fritos for 12 hours on a couch every Sunday. But of all the really awesome things about football, one of the awesome-est is that a random nobody can make a difference, and quickly. A year ago Victor Cruz was just a guy who had a really good game during the preseason one time. Could Dan DePalma be the Giants’ next Cruz? (who? Exactly) [Mike Garafolo]
  • Nearly every December, we await the decision of at least one stud college quarterback who may or may not choose to take his talents to the NFL. This year Matt Barkley and Landry Jones decided to stay in school to do keg stands with college girls finish their education and continue to develop. That’s the path Sam Bradford took a few years ago when he delayed his NFL career by one more season, and now he says there’s no way he could have led an NFL team at the age of 21. [The Associated Press]
  • Cam Newton is charging $125 for his autograph, which is increasingly becoming a common practice to combat autograph hounds who will get a signature for free or at minimal cost, and then turn around and sell the jersey/shirt/ball/coffee mug/piece of plywood for an absurd price that people actually pay. For some reason, a Charlotte columnist doesn’t understand why Newton is charging anything, and he wants us all to please think of the children. [Scott Fowler]
  • Peyton Manning bought a $4.6 million home in Denver that has seven bedrooms, finally proving that rich people are indeed rich. [Denver post]
  • Was Robert Kraft’s awkward video with Ricki Lander a little creepy and weird? Yes. Was it the end of sports forever in Boston? YES. [Boston Herald, with the first time the paper has overreacted to anything ever]
  • So does 95 catches for 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns sound about right for Brandon Marshall during his first year in Chicago? Sure. [Bear Goggles On]
  • If you can muster the energy to care, the ESPYs were last night. People won awards, laughed at things that weren’t funny, and performed figurative sexual acts to ESPN for several hours. Aaron Rodgers was on stage with Zooey Deschanel, and he said something and did a thing. [Total Packers]
  • Stories about a chip being on Randy Moss’ shoulders remind me that references to a chip being on the shoulder of anyone anywhere is the worst cliché that still exists in locker rooms. [PFT]
  • Rookie camps are starting Monday (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1) [Rich Tandler]