Workout Bonuses in Limbo Amid Pandemic

Bill Huber

GREEN BAY, Wis. – For years, the Green Bay Packers have paid their top players handsomely to coax them to stay in town for the team’s offseason practices.

The COVID-19 pandemic has wiped out those practices, meaning it’s not business as usual for the Packers this offseason. According to OverTheCap.com, Za’Darius Smith’s workout bonus for this offseason is a team-high $750,000. That’s followed by Preston Smith at $600,000, and Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, David Bakhtiari and Adrian Amos at $500,000 apiece. In all, 13 players – including free-agent additions Christian Kirksey and Rick Wagner ($250,000 apiece), have bonuses of at least $200,000 and totaling $5.35 million.

For perspective, the Seattle Seahawks have $100,000 in workout bonuses. Total. No members of the Minnesota Vikings have a workout bonus of more than $100,000. Only two members of the Detroit Lions have a workout bonus of more than $100,000. Ditto the New England Patriots. The Chicago Bears have three.

Video: The Packers' moves in free agency

As SI.com’s Albert Breer noted:

Today would otherwise be the first day teams with new coaches could start offseason programs, so, for Carolina, Washington, Dallas, Cleveland and the Giants, work is officially being lost now. I was told, as of Sunday afternoon, that the NFL Management Council and the NFLPA were still working through rules for virtual offseason programs. So everyone remains in a holding pattern. As it is, all teams are allowed to distribute playbooks to their players, and coaches can send teaching tapes (video with instructions voiced over) along too. Under normal circumstances, we’d be entering Phase I (which lasts three weeks for teams with new coaches, two for those without) for the new coaches. During that time, players can meet with coaches and do strength-and-conditioning work with strength coaches on the field (for up to 90 minutes) but balls are only allowed out of the JUGS machine (for catching the ball and fielding kicks). The team can only specify two hours for players to be at the facility, and the players can spend up to four hours there, with a limit of four days per week for that work. Which is to say, at this point, the work they’d be getting done would be fairly limited anyway. So what’s the holdup with the rules? Triggers for workout bonuses would be one. The thought I’ve heard is that while taking attendance for meetings would be fairly simple, doing full-scale workouts under supervision would not—and so maybe, for this year only, players would only need to attend meetings to get their bonus money, which is triggered in most deals (under the new CBA) by attendance just under 90 percent.

For Breer’s full story, which includes the 11 players at the top of the draft board, the depth in the receiver and cornerback classes, and much, much more, CLICK HERE.

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