The NFL is the most popular sport in the United States. It has become increasingly profitable for players and owners alike. However, just because players are making millions and owners are making billions does not mean everyone is happy. The career of a football player is short, and it is their job to maximize their position for as much money as possible while they can get it.
Players will always feel that their worth to a team is valuable, but for owners, who look at things with a closer eye, the decision on whether to pay a player comes down to several factors. This can include the player's popularity, in regard to merchandise sold, their ability to draw people into the stadium and whether or not the team thinks they can be replaced by a younger, and often cheaper, player.
The offseason has been riddled with star NFL players being traded, from Devante Adams to AJ Brown to Matt Ryan, there are a lot of old faces in new places. Whether or not those trades work out for the teams involved remains to be seen, but there are trade requests from the past that we do have more insight on.
Here are five NFL superstars who demanded a trade due to a contract dispute.
#5 - Melvin Gordon
Los Angeles Chargers, 2019
From 2015 to 2019, running back Melvin Gordon was one of the most dangerous players in the NFL. A true dual threat out of the backfield, Gordon was an integral part of the Chargers organization. Heading into the 2019 season, he wanted a pay raise to match those given to other running backs in the league, like David Johnson and Todd Gurley. Despite beginning the year as a holdout and demanding a new contract or a trade, Gordon got neither and returned to the Chargers in late September of that year. He would become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year and would sign with division rivals, the Denver Broncos.
#4 - Jamal Adams
New York Jets, 2020
Jamal Adams is one of the most feared and versatile defensive players in the NFL. Despite playing for a poor New York Jets team, Adams established himself as a jack-of-all-trades type of defender who could make an immediate impact on any team's defense. His time with the Jets came crashing down when Adams wanted a new deal. The team, however, wasn't willing to make a long-term commitment to a defensive back. The Jets ended up trading Adams to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for safety Bradley McDougald and two first-round draft picks. Adams' impact on Seattle was marginal in the 2021 season, but with a new focus on team defense and running the ball, Adams could be in line for a big year.
#3 - Khalil Mack
Oakland Raiders, 2018
Khalil Mack's time with the Oakland Raiders was nothing short of incredible. Mack sacked the quarterback 40.5 times over his four seasons with the Raiders and won the NFL Defensive Player of the year award in the 2016 season. Wanting a new contract at the end of the 2017 season, Mack held out of training camp and the preseason until he was traded to the Chicago Bears on the eve of the 2018 season. Mack signed the richest deal for a defensive player in the history of the NFL and terrorized Aaron Rodgers in his first game. He, however, never quite reached that level again with the Bears.
#2 - Eric Dickerson
Los Angeles Rams, 1987
Eric Dickerson was one of the most productive running backs to ever play in the NFL. Breaking into the league as a rookie, Dickerson immediately established himself as one of the league's best players, rushing for over 1,000 yards. In his second year in the league, Dickerson would rush for over 2,000 yards, something unheard of in today's game. Dickerson and the Rams would end up in a contract dispute that would ultimately see him traded to the Indianapolis Colts in a huge deal that also involved the Buffalo Bills. Dickerson managed to rush for 1,000 yards with the Colts over the next three seasons, but injuries, more contract disputes and suspensions would end his NFL career.
#1 - Marshall Faulk
Indianapolis Colts, 1999
Marshall Faulk was a generational offensive player who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage in two different seasons, one with the Indianapolis Colts and one with his new team, the St. Louis Rams. Faulk looked like he was going to team with Peyton Manning on the Colts for years to come, but after failing to come to a contract extension, Faulk was dealt to the St. Louis Rams. In St. Louis, Faulk would truly find his footing, breaking the NFL record for yards from scrimmage with over 2,400 (including over 1,000 rushing and 1,000 passing) and helping lead the Rams to a victory in Super Bowl XXXIV.