Hobson's Choice: Georgia's Pollack on the mind

With the holdouts over the years with Smith, Smith, Perry, and now Pollack? These are penciled productive players and the organization did not apparently get the job done to make sure that the best players are on the field. Granted that the last few drafts have been excellent, but getting them into training camp is crucial especially considering how competitive the AFC North will be this year. It upsets me that the Blackburn's could not get Pollack into training camp when NFL expectations are high this year for the Bengals. I know that the agent also keeps his client in a holdout to get a better deal. However, don't you think that Pollack is going to be needed in Cleveland not 6 games into the season.

Drew Englewood, Ohio


Can you provide any insight into the Pollack negotiations? Is it Pollack who is making the decision to hold out, or his agents? In my opinion, and I hope David reads this, is that he's making a serious long term negative decision for his career. He'll never get the reps back, he's already lost his starting job, and the Bengals look pretty good with the linebacking corps they have right now, so he has no leverage.

Since we're talking financials, I have some related questions. If he never signs and gets traded (I'm sure we're not close to that, are we?), do the Bengals take a cap hit? If he signs well into the season, does the first year get prorated? It seems like he should not get a full year's pay, so if he's holding out for another $200K, he's going to lose it in lack of game play. It also seems like the agents make out regardless of what happens to David's career, so they have no incentive to end the holdout. What are your thoughts on this? Am I off base?

BTW, thanks for all the details. I look forward to updated info every day as we head towards a definite playoff season!

Larri Mount Laurel, NJ **

It's true that it didn't happen every year, but much too often in the past it seemed we fans would "live" with the selection of the Bengals number one draft pick - then "die" as we watched a prolonged holdout severely cripple their chances to contribute much of anything that year. Is it just me, or have you noticed too that David Pollack's holdout hasn't seemed to dampen the spirits of the fans so far this camp?

There seems to be a different feeling in the air this year.

Although I'm sure his agents are telling him he's "doing what he's got to do," my personal feeling right now is that it's his loss not the Bengals - and that's surprisingly refreshing for a change. I have no doubt that he would've been a monster on the field from the get-go if he had reported to camp on time and got the work in that he needed to learn a new position on a new level of football, but hearing that Coach Lewis is now going with Landon Johnson in the starting lineup instead just makes me shrug. I mean that as a compliment to Landon - and to the organization that Coach Lewis has built.

If the Bengals continue to improve the way they have in the past couple seasons, I think the days of us fans sitting on the edge of our seats in April waiting to see who the next superstar college athlete is that's going to turn the Bengals around just might be over. I'm not quite saying, "Pollack Who?" but I'm not exactly in panic mode because of his absence either. You've got your finger on the pulse of "Bengaldom," have you sensed this too?

J.W. Florence, Kentucky

Drew, Larri, J.W.** There it is. A cross-section of how Bengaldom feels about the Pollack holdout. People are either lined up against the money-grubbing team or the money hungry athlete/agents. Put me squarely in the middle. That worst thing for a 245-pound linebacker changing positions is a holdout. The NFL graveyard is littered with the bones of great college players who withered away as pro tweeners.

Then again, the worst thing for a franchise that hasn't been to the playoffs in 14 straight seasons is losing a potential playmaker in a tight AFC North race that could be decided by five sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery.

That said. . .

Unfortunately, since the team and Pollack's agents aren't talking, I can't provide anything insightful. I've seen the reports you have. That they're $800,000 apart, that they're $50,000 apart, that Pollack's people want more than the guy ahead of him got at No. 16.

There are so many pieces to it, that it depends which one you're talking when it comes to how far apart. From what Pollack has told people, the total package has been agreed to and the Bengals are believed to have offered him an upgrade over the deal D.J. Williams signed last year at No. 17.

But they have also slotted Pollack behind this year's No. 15 and No. 16, contracts that are about $7.2 million guaranteed. So their offer is probably $7 million or less, and if Pollack's agents want more than those slotted ahead of him because that is more in line with this year's increase over last year, then I don't think the Bengals are going to give in on that. A slot is a slot.

From the agents' view, how can they sell themselves to clients next year if their competitors will show how they didn't get Pollack a high enough increase over Williams?

Now, should the Bengals give the kid the extra $500,000 to get him in and get it done? Not if you think you've got a tight salary cap and not if you think you've done due diligence with the slot. I think they're amazed because they figure Pollack is going to get the entire $9.5 million any way. Can you see them cutting him before his five years are up? They didn't even cut Reinard Wilson early. But, yes, they did whack Ki-Jana Carter and Akili Smith, but whom here thinks Marvin Lewis drafted a Ki-Jana or Akili in Pollack?

I mean, $500,000 is $500,000. You don't think they could use that on someone else?

That brings up the agents' point. The team can cut a player at any point, and he doesn't get that salary guaranteed, as opposed to baseball. I think that's part of the issue here and the Bengals are going to fight the move to those 100-percent guaranteed contacts. And, they should. It ruined baseball.

But you have to understand the agents' position in their world. It may be small money in the long term, but they need it to show they did the job. And, if their client agrees it's a bad deal, unfair, and is committed to a holdout, then more power to him. That's why it's America.

I got a lot of anti-Bengals e-mails early in the holdout. Now it's kind of swung to anti-Pollack the longer it goes, so I think J.W. has a valid point. Contrary to other years, the fans seem to feel there is enough here to overcome one player's absence because Lewis has done such a good job building a deep team.

I don't know enough to analyze the thing. And even if I did know all the facts, I'm not smart enough to know if the Bengals should be ripped for paying a guy in the slot, or if the agents should be ripped for wanting the same increase everyone else is getting.

But I do know this. At some point, players have to play and teams have to make the playoffs. And I feel bad for Pollack who is no longer in a game, but a business.

And I'll say this. I don't think you can judge a guy on something like this. Justin Smith leaves it all out there when he plays, and you don't think about that 51-day holdout and I don't think you call him selfish when he takes as much pride in his tackles as he does his sacks. This thing is so unnatural to what they do. I'm sure when he gets here he'll be the kind of fiery, intense, great teammate he was in college.

By the way, Larri, the only way Pollack wouldn't get paid is if he missed regular-season games, and I don't see that happening. He'd still get the bonus, and players get paid every Monday, but not if he's unsigned. He would then miss 1/17th of his salary for each game missed.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.