The numbers behind Nate Behar’s holdout with the Esks

Canadian receiver Nate Behar continues to be at the centre of a contract standoff with Edmonton.

The Eskimos selected Behar fifth overall in the 2017 CFL draft and he remains the lone top two round pick unsigned. Furthermore, four of the top five picks have signed contracts with the respective teams that drafted them: defensive lineman Faith Ekakitie, linebacker Cameron Judge, receiver Danny Vandervoort and defensive lineman Connor McGough. All are either in camp or in Judge’s case ready to attend when the semester finishes at UCLA.

Notably, missing from the top five draft picks who have put pen to paper: Behar. For reference, let’s look at what the first four selections received in first year and total “guaranteed money” on their first pro pacts.

Taken  Name Salary Term Total Team
N0. 1 Faith Ekakitie $88,000 2+1 $290,000 Bombers
No. 2 Cameron Judge $82,500 2+1  $275,000 Riders
No. 3 Danny Vandervoort $75,000 2+1 $247,000 Lions
No. 4 Connor McGough $77,000 2+1 $245,000 Ticats
No. 5 Nate Behar Eskimos

Sources say the Eskimos made Behar a take it or leave it offer: $77,000 in year one “guaranteed money” with exactly the same total cash over three seasons as Vandervoort who was picked No. 3 overall. However, over the last few weeks, Edmonton general manager Brock Sunderland reduced the offer by at least $20,000 as days passed without an agreement.

Sources within the Eskimos organization have made it known that because the team has depth at national receiver (Chris Getzlaf, Cory Watson, Shamawd Chambers, Natey Adjei, Anthony Barrett and freshly signed Scott MacDonnell) Behar’s camp is negotiating from a position of weakness.

The take it or leave it offer could be considered fair within the 2017 draft pick market, but that offer was actually less in guaranteed money and signing bonus than what offensive lineman Danny Groulx signed for after Edmonton selected the Laval product seventh overall in 2015. Groulx, like Behar, is a client of agent Jonathon Hardaway who has been known as a tenacious negotiator who will hold firm on his side. He won’t want to accept a 2+1 contract for less than what a player drafted two years ago and two slots lower received.

Over recent years, Hardaway has had clients hold out from the start of training camp, No. 1 overall pick, offensive lineman Josiah St. John in 2016 and versatile defender Chris Ackie in 2015. That said, after Edmonton drafted receiver Devon Bailey sixth overall in 2014, the rangy pass catcher was in camp on time. Same for the seventh pick, Groulx in 2015.

There has been little to no communication between the Eskimos and Behar’s side for at least a few weeks. It’s clear Edmonton feels their initial offer was fair, and seemingly in comparison to the other top picks it looks that way, but Behar and his agent view it differently.

Justin Dunk

Justin Dunk

Justin Dunk was a five-year starter at quarterback for the University of Guelph. He covers the league for Sportsnet and 3DownNation.
Justin Dunk
Justin Dunk
About Justin Dunk (719 Articles)
Justin Dunk was a five-year starter at quarterback for the University of Guelph. He covers the league for Sportsnet and 3DownNation.

33 Comments on The numbers behind Nate Behar’s holdout with the Esks

  1. I am all for a player using his leverage, and there are few times in their careers that they have much when it comes to non-guaranteed contracts. Further, Behar is likely to be brought along slowly in Edmonton behind the depth they have and isn’t putting himself behind the eight ball for the long term for his development.

    At the same time, if he starts missing game cheques now, he will never make that money up in his eventual contract. He also needs to consider that in a cap league, essentially what he may gain is out of the pocket of someone else in that locker room. There is a need to manage his image with his future teammates and assure he is not defining himself through a prolonged battle with very little to gain.

  2. Less than a player drafted 2 picks down 2 years ago. That seems unfair. How do the 3, 4 and 5 make less than 7 two years later?

  3. The headline is bothersome. Behar is not a holdout, he is without a contract. A holdout is someone who is under contract and is refusing to fulfil the terms of the contract in order to leverage a better deal. Reporters continually misuse the term and cast aspersions on players by implying they are doing something wrong.

    Behar and his agent have every right to bargain hard for the best deal. There is nothing wrong with that. Football is a physically demanding and dangerous sport and Behar gets to choose when it makes financial sense for him to sign. He didn’t choose the Eskimos, they chose him.

    There has been a constant editorial overtone to 3 Down Nation that suggests that Hardaway is doing ill service to his clients. He isn’t. He is doing exactly what he’s paid to do … advise them on how to get the best financial terms possible.

    Time to give your head a shake Justin.

    • couldn’t disagree with you more. These draft picks are making more money than many of the vets who are starting players and drafted players hardly contribute outside of special teams. Everything they get takes away from the players that are actually controlling the destiny of the team. Shut up and play ball so you can gain some experience and work towards a starting position and contribute. Good for the team.

      • I will show up to your job. Pay you less than market value. When you complain I will say shut up and get to work. It’s pro football not indentured servitude or slavery.

        • great comparison coward (stop hiding you loser) and when the new guy is getting paid more the the employees that make the company stay afloat how does that sit. Oh ya and then they say I’m not coming to work until I get what I asked for. How’s that work for you moron.

          • In debate class I learned people with bad arguments make personal attacks. Your analogy makes no sense. Yes we live in a capitalistic society. An employee is free to say I am not something to work until I think you will pay me fairly.

    • Quint, while you are correct that the agent is right in doing everything in his power to get more $ for his client, you (and the agent) are missing the point that not attending TC and missing games and practice is damaging the start to the player’s pro career. And it will cost him money down the road as he tries to make up for lost playing time/practice opportunity.

  4. Hasn’t Sunderland been telling the press that they’re “closing in” on a solution? How can that be when they haven’t been communicating for weeks?

    Not a very good look for a first year GM not signing his first ever draft choice and lying to the press about why.

  5. I don’t understand why these kids get swept away by agents that are there for themselves and not the players. He has been offered the same cash as #3 this year. It takes 2 to 3 years before these draft picks actually start earning their money anyway because non are big impact players out of the gate. This means there are vets make the same or less that are playing every down and contributing big time. These kids are getting nurtured along and often only special team players for most of this initial contract. I’m glad that they are dropping the value as week go by and hopefully this will help future draft picks to sign and get to work to actually start earning their money.

    • “Earning their money”… you know nobody gets paid until week 1 of the regular season right?
      And why would you be glad they’re making less money to get their heads bashed in professionally? How can anybody find pleasure in young men being paid less by greedy teams who want to use them then throw them away?

  6. I miss Ed Hervey.

    • what are you hiding from. Grow up and use your own name you coward! Or should I just call you troll

      • I am a different Kevin. We share the same first name. Chill out dude. It was a coincidence.

  7. You are not the only Kevin on the planet earth. I did my post about Ed Hervey offend you. Do you not like Ed Hervey for some reason?

    • because I haven’t seen you until now and I thought you were a troll. Still do actually because it’s quite the coincidence.

      • Kevin No. 2 // June 15, 2017 at 1:37 pm //

        I am now Kevin No. 2. Is this better? Can I stay on planet earth now? Do I have to make an official name change to Kevin No. 2? Kevin is a common name. My original comment “I miss Ed Hervey.” had nothing to do with your comment or you so I do not know why you consider me a “troll” for making it. I have been a fan of the Eskimos for a decade. It looks like this guy did 3 of the Eskimos last 4 first round draft picks and only this 1 is a hold out so I am made a logical statement.

  8. Hardaway is an idiot

  9. Those that think the players camp are correct Need to gov ether head a shake. Why would he get anymore than those drafted above him? Why at this point would he get the same offer, when almost a month has passed?
    Holding out on the CFL doesn’t look good anywhere. Especially if you have plans to try to go higher than the CFL.
    Just a brutal decision by the player and the agent.

    • Why would those above him take less than what people drafted much lower then them TWO YEARS AGO make? That’s the real question isn’t it?
      Why aren’t the 3/4 picks fighting for their clients to make what had been made in years past?

      Why are they letting their players be given a short stick. Agents work for players. Not for teams.

  10. From the outside looking in I don’t see Jonathon Hardaway doing his clients any good, other than always missing camp… Not a good rep for an agent. Perhaps he needs to watch some “Ballers” re-runs (great show).

    • Grain the show is fictional and the agents in Ballers represent NFLers so I am not sure this is a comparable situation. The CFL ain’t the NFL. Plus, if he has represented at least 3 Eskimos’ 1st rounders and this is the only holdout maybe the problem is the new GM does not know what he is doing.

      • I thought Ballers was a documentary (how could you take that comment seriously 😀 )?? Hardaway has had issues with other teams too. SK more than once, St John last year, and Matt O’Donnell several years ago. He has a history of guys not signing, be that good or bad probably depends on your point of view.

        • Oh yeah. I remember he got O’Donnell a tryout with the Celtics and Raptors. O’Donnell is starting has been starting now for the Eskimos for a while so I guess it all worked out in the end. I guess this will too. Didn’t know you could do imojis!

          • Yeah, players obviously feel he brings value to them or he’d be out of work. As fans its easy to take the side of the team, we just want to watch ball, and hold outs don’t help the cause.

    • Judge Jones // June 15, 2017 at 3:13 pm //

      Oh Yeah? St. John was offered the base salary last year and Jones would not budge. Along comes Hardaway. And then.. and then? There went Jones making St. John the second highest player paid even after missing part of the season.

  11. Christena // June 15, 2017 at 3:14 pm //

    Is it common for GM’s to make “take it or leave it” deals and take money away when not settled? JW.

    • Wasn’t until the last couple seasons, and even then only with draft picks. That’s the only time the team has them exclusively, and can play serious hard ball with contract negotiations.

  12. Alex Droho // June 15, 2017 at 4:18 pm //

    Nate Behar will be traded to one of the Ontario teams. Most likely to Ottawa. Second most likely destination is Hamilton.

  13. PreSeason 1 // June 15, 2017 at 4:18 pm //

    Depth? Didn’t they have 1 catch for 12 yards from National receivers in preseason game 1? That being the only Canadian output they had…

    • Jimmy Breslin // June 15, 2017 at 4:55 pm //

      Look any position where a national player can make an impact, especially as a starter, is a plus for a team. Behar or any other Canadian good enough to be in this league deserves every dollar he can ultimately get. And for those who would belittle special teams contributions remember that’s about a third of every game. Think about that. I feel Behar’s problem is the depth Edmonton does have at receiver (nationals) bringing in another big body guy like MacDonnell (Ottawa) who can play on specials right away only makes Nate’s bargaining position weaker. Fair ? Not really but that’s what he and his agent are up against.

      I think whoever suggested he’d wind up in Ontario is on to something, that may well be what they’re really aiming for.

  14. The Blue Bombers could use a talented Canadian receiver. Go get him, Kyle.

  15. GryphonAlum // June 15, 2017 at 7:21 pm //

    Good on you Dunk for writing more about CFL player salaries. I think a lot of fans appreciate this info.

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