I really could care less whether he hinted he wanted to be a Falcon. He did so 18 months ago, but we all knew that wasn't going to happen with McKay/Blank running things.
But his situation along with the million other situations around the league of players holding out for more money would cause me as a GM to take this approach:
I would start putting in provisions in my rookie contracts and also in any deal that has a sizable signing bonus that if a player decides to hold out with more than 2 years remaining on his contract, the team should have the option of recouping 50% of the remaining proration of bonus money.
I know not too many players/agents would be willing to sign with this type of provision, but really agents & players have no leverage when it comes to these types of holdouts when guys have 3 or 4, and in T.O.'s case, 6 more years left in their contract.
The league-wide standard is that players holdout in the final years of their contracts, but sometimes (as was the case with Jamal), the growing trend is to hold out with 2 years left. If I were a GM, I'd be willing to bite the bullet on the 2-year thing, but if a guy has 3 years left on his contract, and is demanding a new one, he's just going to have to sit pretty.
If a player is truly good, at most he is going to wait a year for a new deal. Take Antonio Gates for example. The Chargers could be sitting on their thumbs in terms of getting him a long-term deal as of now, but next off-season he'll be a RFA, and no way would the Chargers want to go into the following summer without him being under long-term contract, since the likelihood a deal can get done after the season before he hits free agency is slim.
Is Gates holding out? No. Could/should he? Well, if you consider he only has 2 years left on his contract, he by unconventional wisdom has the "right" to and actually has some sort of leverage. Gates needs to get paid sooner rather than later because at this rate he will hit the UFA market after 2006, but because '07 is an uncapped year, he won't be able to reap the benefits of free agency, unless the CBA is extended between now and then.
That's why it's somewhat understandable that Javon Walker and a guy like Ed Reed are threatening holdouts because they are in the same boat. There's a chance they won't be able to reap huge benefits in terms of signing bonus until 2008 or later.
But luckily the Falcons aren't in this boat. If you scroll back through the history of this board, I was one that wanted to get Moss. But I've now seen the error of my ways. Turds are turds. And if you want to build a top organization, you can't allow those guys to get stuck in your foundation, or the whole house will stink. Maybe if we reach the point like the Eagles were in which we need a boost to get over that hump we can start looking at players like T.O. and Moss to get us over the hump for 1 or 2 years, but at this point we're still in the building phase, and guys like these who are only about the $$$ should be avoided.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.