Why NFL Coaches and Front-Office Staff Hate the Proposed Offseason Overhaul

Many people around the league were irate on Tuesday. Plus, a framework for a Justin Jefferson extension, Justin Simmons landing spots and more.
Saints linebackers Jacob Roberts and Isaiah Stalbird run drills during rookie minicamp
Saints linebackers Jacob Roberts and Isaiah Stalbird run drills during rookie minicamp / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

You had questions. I had answers …

From Vtravi (@VinTravi): Your thoughts on this new player idea about training camp?

I hate it, and I know coaches and front-office folks do, too. I also think the players would if it were put into practice—and in particular players with children.

Now, I’ve heard a lot of people say, Boo hoo, the millionaires have to work year-round and can’t dictate time off! That’s a really uninformed take, and to explain why—and we’ll start with the perspective of the coaches and front-office people—you need to understand the lives that these folks live.

No, if you’re a nine-to-fiver, they are not like you, and you shouldn’t apply your two-to-four-weeks-off model to this in any way. If you’re a coach or a scout, you’re basically working seven days a week from mid-July through January. Your summer ends a week or two after July Fourth. Your Thanksgiving and Christmas are swallowed up, and that’s even if you’re not scheduled to play on those holidays.

Your family is going to feel all of it. Then, from January (February, if you go deep in the playoffs) into June, you still work a lot of hours, though you mostly get your weekends back.

But there’s always been the one respite in there, and that’s that the league mostly shuts down from mid-June until mid-July. It marries up with the end of school, and it’s always been when guys can actually unplug and recharge for the seven-day, round-the-clock schedule that gets going right after the summer break. It’s why pretty much everyone working in the NFL has their anniversaries and even some kids’ birthdays in that window.

Now, imagine they tell you that offseason programs are going to start in mid-June. Those may be optional for the players. But the reality is it’s really not optional for more than 90% of players in the league, and the coaches, front-office people, trainers, strength staff, and pretty much everyone else in football ops have to be there. So now, all those people are working through free agency, into the draft … and where’s the break?

It’s probably in May, then, when the kids are still in school. So now put yourself in their shoes. Your family makes a ton of sacrifices to accommodate your job. You have no weekends for half the year. And now, the idea of taking a proper summer vacation is out the window, too.

This is why coaches, scouts and front-office people were irate in an, “Are they really serious about this?” kind of way, when my buddy Tom Pelissero from NFL Network (don’t kill the messenger) tweeted the news on Tuesday morning.

My guess is, if you were them (and, to be clear, it’s not like they’re coal miners here), you’d be pissed too. And I think, in time, the players would come to hate it as well.

From Pat (@jolletterun): Will the proposed changes in OTAs help improve offensive line performance? I keep hearing lack of practice time is to blame and was hoping to get your thoughts.

Pat, the short answer here is no.

The problem with offensive line development now relates as much to the practice rules as it does to the time the players are in-house. Linemen, for obvious reasons, do need some level of contact to develop. So the restrictions on contact in training camp and in-season have made it harder to bring along backups, which has created both the depth and developmental issues that the NFL grapples with at those positions.

Compounding it is that teams generally don’t rotate offensive linemen the way they do defensive linemen. So that means an offensive lineman can go from September to January with just the 14 allowable full-contact practices to get real time-on-task training. Some offensive line coaches, like the Tennessee Titans’ Bill Callahan and New England Patriots legend Dante Scarnecchia, have been creative in finding solutions. But there’s no question it’s a problem.

So given all that, it’s hard to see where moving a bunch of non-contact practices will address this particular problem. I think, in fact, it could make it a little trickier for offensive linemen, who, under the new plan, would be on the hook to pay for their own football-specific training through the winter and spring months.

Justin Jefferson looks on before a game against the Packers / Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

From Bengksi (@Bengksi): What do you expect a Justin Jefferson extension to look like?

Bengski, this is a great question, because you hear belly-aching over it, but not as much in the way of solutions. So let’s take a look at the Amon-Ra St. Brown deal to create a baseline. That way you don’t have to guess on inflation and also, unlike A.J. Brown, St. Brown is entering a contract year, the same way Jefferson is.

Now, what’s most relevant is the first three years of a deal. That’s where the guaranteed money is. St. Brown was due $3.366 million in 2024 on his old deal and landed $63.386 million over the first three years of his new deal, meaning he got just over $60 million for the first two new years of his new deal (Brown, conversely, was already under contract for the next three years, and got a bump from $68 million to $80 million for that period).

Jefferson’s got $19.743 million coming on his fifth-year option this year. That means just to match what St. Brown landed from the Detroit Lions, the Minnesota Vikings have to get to $80 million over the first three years of a new contract. Now, you consider that Jefferson is a better player. And maybe you consider Nick Bosa’s numbers, as he’s the NFL’s top-paid nonquarterback. Bosa had a $17.859 million fifth-year option for ’23. He got $98.551 million over the first three years of his new deal. That’s $80.692 million over the first two new years.

Add that up, and given what Bosa got, and the difference between Jefferson and St. Brown, I think you’re talking about a starting point of $80 million for the first two new years, which means $100 million over the next three years. Probably all guaranteed. And probably then some. Which is why this is no easy negotiation.

From Kevin Alfaro (@KevinACVIA): Are the 49ers going to the Super Bowl?

Kevin, health permitting, they’ll be in the mix again. I don’t see why they wouldn’t be a 12-, 13- or 14-win team, with some home playoff games likely. If that’s where you are, and you’ve made it to the Super Bowl in two of the past four years, and you have your team largely back, I don’t see why you’d expect any less.

From Memo (@memopau_arcadia): Where do you see Justin Simmons landing?

Memo, I think it’ll be a contender, and probably one that he’d have some background with.

The Philadelphia Eagles are one obvious place to look, since Simmons’s old coach, Vic Fangio, is there, as is his old position coach, Christian Parker. I guess you could say the same for Ejiro Evero with the Carolina Panthers, since they have a need there—I just don’t think the Panthers would appeal to Simmons. The Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Rams run similar schemes as well, that’d fit Simmons.

That said, the one that really intrigues me, that might not make sense (for financial reasons) would be the Niners. Brandon Staley is now there working with new defensive coordinator Nick Sorensen. Staley was with Simmons on the Denver Broncos in 2019, so he’s got a good idea of what the four-time All-Pro brings to the table. And the Niners could use a center fielder like Simmons on the back end to complement the rugged Talanoa Hufanga at safety.

The Baltimore Ravens are the other team that makes sense to me, if only because they’ve been big on acquiring smart, professional third-contract vets over the past half decade or so.

From Adam Paul (@LongevityHelp): The Dallas Cowboys’ starting QB in Week 1 of the 2025 NFL season will be … ?

Dak Prescott. I think eventually the team will buckle, though it is starting to feel to me a bit like Jared Goff in Los Angeles in 2020.

From Jerry Mañder (@JM_Bark): Are any “skill position” Panthers players viable this year as top-tier standouts as things are set today?

Jonathan Mingo, coming off a foot injury, would be tough to count on after how last year went. Diontae Johnson, despite the very valid football-character questions, has been a 100-catch, 1,000-yard receiver, and is still just 27 (28 in July). Rookie Xavier Legette is talented, but may, at first at least, be more of a gadget player (like Deebo Samuel was) than pure receiver.

And that, to me, leaves Jonathon Brooks as maybe the most intriguing guy in this mix. He’s a good-sized back, at close to 210 pounds, who has passing-game value and was drafted No. 46 even though he’s coming off a torn ACL that happened late in his final college season.

He’s expected to be cleared July 1. If everything goes smoothly, I could see the guy rushing for 1,000 yards and catching 40 or 50 balls from Bryce Young.

From Matt (@dynastygirldad): Do you think the Lions are here to stay?

Matt, yes. I’m gonna go back to my old rule: If a team is strong on the lines of scrimmage, it should be in just about every game, and that success should be sustainable.

Detroit has a good crew of young defensive tackles with veteran D.J. Reader joining in; one of the NFL’s top young edge rushers, in Aidan Hutchinson; maybe the league’s best tackle tandem, with Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell as bookends; and a top-shelf center in Frank Ragnow. That’s a really good foundation, and it’s without even getting to guys such as Goff, St. Brown, Jahmyr Gibbs, Brian Branch, Jack Campbell and, well, you get the picture.

Last year was no smoke-and-mirrors operation in Detroit.

From TweetTweetTweetTeewt (@JeffTheSeahorse): Albie, what are your thoughts on several teams having to play 3 games in a 10-day span? – JEFF

Jeff, I think it’s going to be really interesting, starting with the New York Jets, to hear how players feel after going through such stretches.

From Andrew Schnittker (@aschnitt53): Do you foresee the Chiefs adding any additional veteran free agents to their roster, WRs or otherwise?

Andrew, I’d expect that the Kansas City Chiefs will be open for business. For now, though, at receiver specifically, it makes sense to see what they’ve got through the rest of the spring, with Hollywood Brown, Xavier Worthy, Skyy Moore and, suspension permitting, Rashee Rice.

(Also, keep an eye on rookie tight end Jared Wiley.)

From Austin Elmore (@autyelmore): Can you try to explain to people how little voluntary OTAs matter and why Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins not being with the Bengals is not surprising or a big deal? Thanks!

Does it matter to the development of the team? I don’t think it’ll affect that much. Chase and Higgins are great players, and Joe Burrow will get the work he needs with them.

As for what it means for the future of the franchise, though, it is a very big deal. The challenge for the Cincinnati Bengals in building around Burrow is about to change in the way it did for the Buffalo Bills in building around Josh Allen, and we all saw how much changed in Buffalo over the course of the offseason.

As I see it, there’s really not much of a decision on Chase. You sign him. Things are a little trickier with Higgins. It’ll be interesting to see how that one plays out—particularly as young receivers such as third-round pick Jermaine Burton get more comfortable in the offense.

Albert Breer