The NFL's version of spring football began this week. As usual, the news has centered on which players are not in attendance.
Is the significance surrounding these absences, from
"We're all free to make choices. In the end, our choices lead to consequences. I'm not happy about it. He knows that," Jacksonville coach
Yeah, that totally makes it sound as if it is voluntary and no big deal that he is exercising his contractual right to not attend these practices. Make no mistake about it, coaches and general managers want their players participating in any and all offseason workouts. Some are just better than others at hiding their frustrations about it.
That's why a coach like Del Rio or owner like Washington's
They are not under contract with the Browns, so they would have to sign an injury waiver in order to even participate. But that wouldn't make any sense. All of these players have been affected by the uncapped year and are unable to offer their services to other clubs on the open market as unrestricted free agents. The Browns gave them a restricted tender and that was that.
So these players will not be getting a long-term deal and instead will play under the relative insecurity of a one-year deal in which the compensation level is far below what they feel they're worth. On top of that, the Browns' organization and Cleveland fans want them to take the practice field and risk injury for a voluntary practice? Good luck. The one thing we know for sure is that over the course of the next three or four weeks, more than a couple of players will suffer some sort of season-ending injury. It is inevitable. Happens every year. Why would these Browns RFAs even consider taking that chance?
It's gotten to the point that the internal and public pressures have made it so that it sure feels mandatory, even if it isn't. Why not just eliminate the ambiguity and make attendance mandatory and end this charade? The NFL Players Association likely would be willing to discuss this possibility at the bargaining table for the new CBA. But in order to give that up it would have to get something in return, and the NFL owners would have to deem that clause to be worthy of a concession on their part.
Many NFL people consider that to be extremely unlikely because most of the owners only really care about the games and who does or does not perform in them. Besides, the public and peer pressure is already in their favor, doing their work for them. There is no pressing need to put it in writing.