Eric Bledsoe was a restricted free agent this past summer, and historically, teams have held all the leverage in these situations, with the ability to match any offer their player might receive.
Bledsoe didn’t seek an offer sheet elsewhere, however, because other teams could only offer up to four guaranteed contract years, and he and his agent wanted to hold out for a full five-year deal as close to the max as possible.
Ultimately, an agreement was reached, and Bledsoe inked a five-year deal worth $70 million to remain in Phoenix. But had the Suns refused to meet those demands, Bledsoe was prepared to play this season under a one-year qualifying offer for just $3.7 million — which honestly comes as a bit of a surprise.
The deal did not get completed until September, and caught many by surprise considering how late in the free agency game it came about.
Bledsoe was prepared to go into this season on a one-year, qualifying offer contract which would have made him an unrestricted free agent next summer.
The 6-foot-2 guard said he did sign a qualifying offer.
“I just didn’t send it in (to the Suns),” Bledsoe said.
The reason this decision comes off as extraordinary has nothing to do with Bledsoe’s skill set, which likely would have landed him the deal he was seeking once he played out the one-year contract and became an unrestricted free agent next summer.
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It’s Bledsoe’s history of injury that made this potential course of action a bigger gamble than seemed necessary.
Greg Monroe of the Pistons chose a one-year qualifying offer this offseason, but he had only missed three games in total through his first four NBA seasons. Bledsoe, however, hasn’t been nearly as durable — he’s missed essentially half of his team’s games in two of his first four seasons, including last year in Phoenix where he was healthy enough to appear in just 43 contests.
Thankfully, things worked out to the satisfaction of both sides. But it’s worth noting just how big of a bet Bledsoe was willing to place on himself by agreeing to play without a net this season if the Suns hadn’t given him the long-term contract he desired.