What would a hold-in mean for Justin Herbert, Chargers?

It is incredibly unlikely, but the topic of Justin Herbert holding in has consumed the Chargers news cycle.

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Will Justin Herbert utilize a training camp "hold-in" to expedite his extension with the LA Chargers? It's possible. Kevin Patra of NFL.com recently reported:

"Herbert was asked on Wednesday whether he could stage a hold-in during camp if the sides can't hammer out an extension. "When it comes time for camp, the role of the quarterback is to be out there for his team and do everything that he can to put that team in a position to win," he said, via the team's official transcript. "I understand that responsibility. It's something that you'll address when the time comes, but I guess we'll see." That's certainly not a "no".
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The above quote certainly begs the question: do “hold-outs/hold-ins” even work anymore? More specifically, would a Justin Herbert “hold-in” prove to be a fruitful negotiation tactic to move the needle on his extension?

The safe answer is: it depends. It depends on the team, its organization, the player, the player's representation, the salary cap, etc. However, I do believe there is a more “Chargers-focused” answer with respect to Justin Herbert, specifically.

How a hold-in could impact Justin Herbert and the Chargers:

To that end, it may be important to lay out the boring stuff (i.e., the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement). Although not a particularly captivating read, Section 9(a)-(f) in Article 4 establishes the framework for “forfeitable salary allocations” due to a “forfeitable breach.”

Of those “forfeitable breaches” is missing training camp. Now, obviously a “hold-in” isn’t necessarily the same as missing training camp (and so, it is doubtful that Justin Herbert would be committing a forfeitable breach such that he would be subject to the forfeitable salary allocation).

However, the larger picture is; the forfeitable salary allocation formula consists of a number that is computed from player bonuses and not necessarily player salary. What's more, there is a maximum amount of money that can be withheld from the player's forfeitable salary allocation for any one league year.

To bring the focus back on to Justin Herbert and the Chargers, then, the question remains: why not stage a hold-in? If the forfeitable salary allocation rules are at least somewhat player friendly AND if a “hold-in” wouldn’t even run afoul of the forfeitable breach rule, why not use it as a form of leverage?

Think about it - Justin Herbert is a team first guy. He’s also a soft-spoken, media-averse guy who actively tries to veer from the spotlight. It would not be in his nature to “hold-out.” However, as stated above, a “hold-in” would not be much of a fuss for Justin Herbert (not to his checkbook nor to his very human nature).

It could, however, prove to be a headache for the Chargers organization. For starters, this isn’t the most “player-friendly” franchise (at least not historically). One mention of a contract snafu regarding your franchise QB and the media would have a field-day plastering tales of the Chargers ineptitude as an organization.

Second, and probably most importantly, the Chargers have a new offensive coordinator. They have a new playbook. New lingo. New install. And lastly, a mix of rookie and veteran offensive players that need to dial in the finer points of the offense. If Justin Herbert “holds-in” and is not hammering out physical reps, does that spell trouble for the offensive cohesion of this team? Maybe.

So, does a “hold-in” work? It certainly depends. Does it work for Justin Herbert? Probably. Why? Leverage (i.e., Justin Herbert’s long-term significance versus an organization in a win-now scenario with coaches and front-office personnel likely on their last leg). 

In the words of Justin Herbert…”I guess we’ll see.”

MORE: History tells us when a Justin Herbert extension will be signed