Red Zone

Holdouts are still part of camp, but now it’s veterans who sometimes go AWOL

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith throws during NFL football training camp Thursday in St. Joseph.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith throws during NFL football training camp Thursday in St. Joseph. AP

The big concern for NFL teams entering training camp used to be holdouts by first-round draft picks, but that issue was addressed when a pay scale for rookie contracts was introduced in the collective bargaining agreement before the 2011 season.

Now, the major holdout concern has shifted to veterans seeking restructured deals or contract extensions.

Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, who signed a two-year extension Wednesday, and linebacker Justin Houston were holdout candidates, but both showed up on time for training camp, as did quarterback Alex Smith, who is seeking his own extension.

“It’s all part of the game,” said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who oversaw personnel decisions for 12 years in Philadelphia. “I’ve always said, ‘Whoever’s here, we’re going to coach.’ That’s how I go about it. I understand the game, been around it a little bit. Those things happen. It used to be it was the rookies.”

With the opening of camp, Smith, who made the Pro Bowl after throwing for 3,313 yards with 23 touchdowns and only seven interceptions last year in his first season with the Chiefs, said his contract is the furthest thing from his mind.

Smith said he isn’t even sure if contract negotiations were ongoing.

“This is no longer the time to be talking and speculating,” said Smith. “Certainly, the people talking — my agent and the front office — I’ve told them the same thing. When something gets finalized, come let me know. Until then, don’t bother me.

“That’s the way I want it. … We’re in camp now. There’s no more time to be bothered by distractions like that.”

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @todpalmer.

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