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Why NFL holdouts rarely work, and what's next for Donald, Mack

Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald are among the players currently holding out, with the hope of earning themselves a better contract. ESPN Illustration

Aaron Donald, Khalil Mack, Earl Thomas and Le'Veon Bell have combined for 16 Pro Bowls and 10 All-Pro selections in 21 NFL seasons. Each is younger than 30 and arguably the best player in the league at his position, which would seem to place this quartet in prime position for leveraging concessions from their teams by withholding their services.

As these four superstars' holdouts linger into the preseason, the reality is that even elite veteran NFL players have typically been the ones to blink in these staredowns, especially in recent seasons. Successful holdouts have been scarce in the years since Chris Johnson (2011), Darrelle Revis (2010), Steven Jackson (2008), Larry Johnson (2007) and Deion Branch (2006) held out for sweeter deals -- and got them.

Why do NFL holdouts never seem to work out for the players? And what will happen in the cases of Donald, Mack, Thomas and Bell this time around?


Why holdouts are an uphill fight for players

Donald, Mack, Thomas and Bell have one big problem this summer.