Greed Before Glory: NFL Players Who Value Cash Above Passion

Darren - September 29, 2023

Greed Before Glory: NFL Players Who Value Cash Above Passion

Darren - September 29, 2023


Darrelle Revis

Revis was one of the Jets’ best players at the turn of the decade. That’s when they were in playoff discussion before they fell off the deep end. The defensive end had an All-Pro season in 2009 and decided he wanted more cash. Hard Knocks covered their training camp and received more drama than they expected.


The Jets initially failed to come to terms with him so he sat out for most of their training camp. Usually, head coaches understand the game and don’t allow it to them. But it visibly infuriated Rex Ryan who confronted Woody Johnson directly about the situation. Finally, the Jets gave Revis the extension that he wanted (via Over the Cap).


Russell Wilson

Wilson’s fans will staunchly defend their favorite player and say that he joined Denver because he wanted to win. That’s great but it doesn’t hide the fact that the Seahawks did better without him. Furthermore, he didn’t give up any cash to join the Broncos in 2022 (via PFF).


Denver is paying the Super Bowl winner almost $50 million per season as part of a $296 million deal. It’s sensational money and that’s why there were sinking hearts when he had a nightmarish first year in Mile High City. Make no mistake, Wilson wouldn’t have joined Denver if the money wasn’t right.

Fox News

Saquon Barkley

Barkley made headlines in the summer of 2023 because he was at loggerheads with the Giants’ front office. The star running back wanted an extension but the suits laughed in his face. Everybody knows that running back is the most underpaid position in the league right now.

CBS Sports

He threatened a holdout but the response was fascinating. Many fans called him naive because they were never going to pay him. In the end, Barkley agreed a one-year extension worth $10 million. This was the same as if they put him under the franchise tag but they added more bonuses (via Fansided).

NFL Spin Zone

JaMarcus Russell

The NFL changed the rules after the Russell debacle that saw the Raiders grossly overpay their rookie quarterback. Russell infamously held out after Oakland drafted him in 2007. He skipped their entire training camp as he held them to ransom before they finally broke (via Bleacher Report).

Sports Illustrated

Finally, they gave him a $68 million contract with roughly half of it guaranteed. Eventually, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to create a new rookie salary cap that they nicknamed the ‘JaMarcus Russell Rule.’ This stopped franchises from throwing cash at unproven players like the former LSU star.


Kelly Stouffer

Stouffer is probably the most obscure player on this list but he had a notorious contract situation. He starred for Colorado State before the Cardinals drafted him in 1987. Expectations were high for the first-round pick but he never received a snap in St. Louis. That’s because a contract holdout kept him on the sidelines for the entire season.

Pro Football History

The quarterback refused to accept their pay offer because he wanted more cash. Finally, they traded him to Seattle in 1988 but he never amounted to much in the NFL. These days fans know him as a decent analyst and media personality. But his football record was disappointing (via Pro Football History).


Jessie Bates III

In 2023, the Falcons signed Bates to a four-year, $64 million contract. Bates left Cincinnati because he wouldn’t play under the franchise tag. He was one of their best players over the previous couple of years. Atlanta had a tough decision because they’re rebuilding but he is a top talent.


Nobody can blame Bates for wanting to make as much cash as possible. However, some analysts believed that the franchise overpaid him when they could have spread that money around the roster. It’s a common debate when teams go big and invest heavily in a single athlete (via Sports Illustrated).

Sports Illustrated

Albert Haynesworth

There are two sides to signing an NFL veteran with a proven track record. They could be brilliant in providing instant quality and leadership to a roster. Or they could fall off a cliff and lose motivation like Haynesworth when he joined Washington in 2009 (via The Athletic).

AP Photo

He was excellent in Tenessee with two All-Pro selections before he joined the Redskins as a free agent. They handed him a $100 million, seven-year deal. He instantly showed up overweight and unmotivated. His signing was a complete disaster and a warning to every NFL franchise.


Lamar Jackson

Jackson has one of the most interesting stories on this list. The quarterback is a divisive figure because some people think he’s one of the NFL’s most overrated players. But the former MVP saw Patrick Mahomes’ contract and wanted a massive deal too. However, the Ravens resisted meeting his demands.

Many people called him naive because he went into negotiations without an agent. In the end, Jackson proved that he was a brilliant businessman because he achieved a five-year, $260 million extension. This also made him the highest-paid NFL player on a per-year basis (via CBS News).

Le’Veon Bell

These days, Bell admits that his Pittsburgh holdout was the biggest mistake of his career. The running back was phenomenal in 2016 as he surged for 1,884 yards in 12 games. Everybody assumed that he would sign the franchise tag in 2018 after he failed to agree on an extension (via Fox News).

Sports Illustrated

Instead, he sat out for the entire season as he refused to change his position. But the Steelers didn’t blink so he sat on the sidelines as he missed the full year. Bell joined the Jets in 2019 but this was a disaster and he quit the franchise in disgust. Finally, he fell out of the NFL after three games for Kansas City.


Tom Brady

Brady may seem like a strange addition to this list but there’s a couple of reasons why he’s on it. Firstly, he joined Tampa Bay in 2020 despite heavy links to the Raiders and his beloved Niners. Florida’s tax laws made it a very attractive choice for the aging quarterback (via The Mirror).


Nobody can blame him for wanting to maximize his final contract. He also helped the Buccaneers to a fairytale Super Bowl win. But Brady cares about cash as fans realized in 2023. He had a stake in the Raiders and this prevented him from coming out of retirement to rescue the Jets.

SacTown Sports

Josh Jacobs

Jacobs joined the ranks of disgruntled running backs in 2023. These days nobody wants to pay these players because it’s so easy to replace them. It’s a tough position when it comes to negotiating an extension. Jacobs discovered this the hard way when the Raiders tried to use the franchise tag.

Las Vegas Review-Journal

He held out throughout the summer and missed their summer schedule. Finally, the Raiders agreed to renegotiate and added an extra two million dollars in incentives to his deal. It’s not much in the grand scheme of things but running backs must fight for every extra dime (via

Sky Sports

Aaron Rodgers

Everybody knows that Rodgers is one of the greatest players of his generation. But he’s also one of the greediest as he proved in recent years as he held the Packers to ransom. The Denver Broncos thought that they were going to pull off a sensational trade in 2022 when Rodgers flirted with them.


But the canny quarterback knew what he was doing as he cajoled the Packers into offering him an extension. He signed a huge deal with the franchise before he quit them the following year for the New York Jets. It’s fair to say that he rubbed many fans up the wrong way with his cash grab (via


Nick Bosa

Bosa became the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history in 2023. This came after he missed the Niners’ entire training camp in a dramatic holdout. The franchise didn’t want to deal with this after Deebo Samuel’s situation the previous year. But they recognized Bosa’s importance and gave him the cash he wanted.


Samuel was the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He led the league in sacks as he showed why he’s one of the best in the business. The Niners knew that it was crucial to keep him to fulfill their championship ambitions because the clock was ticking (via The Guardian).