Back in March, Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka agreed to reduce his 2014 salary from $4.4 million to $1.5 million, partly because his wife was expecting a baby in April, and he couldn't leave the area if the team released him and he signed elsewhere. On Tuesday, Kiwanuka admitted that he was "very angry and upset" at the time, and called NFL contracts "unfair to players."
"If we are going to be playing on these contracts, make them contracts," Kiwanuka told the Newark Star-Ledger's Conor Orr. "Either that or everyone sign a one-year deal every year and we'll do it that way. It's not fair to be locked in somewhere and have that place say that we've decided not to honor the rest of the deal. I don't think it is a contract by definition if one side can opt out of it at any point and the other has no recourse."
We'll never begrudge an NFL player for trying to get as much as he can for that very reason: contract aren't guaranteed. Of course, critics are quick to make the "Does anybody honor contracts?" argument when a player holds out for more money.
Either way, Kiwanuka doesn't like the current setup.
"I don't think it's right," he said. "I think that there are plenty of situations where players out-perform their contracts and they're bashed media-relations wise or fan-wise for asking for more money, so when two sides agree to a contract and one side decides they're not going to live up to it, it's disappointing. ...
"You want to expect that that is the deal, but you're naive if you think that is what is going to happen," he continued. "That's the reality of the situation. That is the reality of the league. I don't agree with it at all, but these are the rules that we agreed upon. So we could either play or watch."
Kiwanuka knows that there's not much he can do about it; the league and the NFLPA agreed to this process in the CBA.
"It's something that is bargained collectively and for me, as an individual, you only have one action or recourse and that is to withhold your services and hold out," Kiwanuka said. "There is no market for you to shop your skills around. That is the part that is very unfair to players. We've come a long way, I can't imagine playing in the league without free agency, there has been progress. It is more fair than it has been in the past but that doesn't mean it's fair or equal now."