With Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso reportedly tearing an ACL while working out in Oregon, the Bills could play hardball with the high-impact 2013 rookie, if they want.
Because the injury happened away from the facility, it’s a non-football injury. And teams are not required to pay players who suffer non-football injuries.
But teams can choose to pay. Failing to pay a player who suffers an injury while working out in preparation for training camp would equate to a message that players are better off sitting on the couch, watching bowling and eating pork rinds.
The importance of not discouraging players from working out should be balanced against the possibility that a player who has suffered an injury doing something other than working out will claim that he was working out.
The gray area comes from basketball. It’s working out, sort of. Plenty of guys do it. Some, like Terrell Suggs of the Ravens, have gotten injured while doing so — and the Ravens had no problem with it. Some coaches, like Dennis Allen of the Raiders, have made clear their disdain for the practice.
As to Alonso, it’s unclear what he specifically was doing when his ACL gave out. Still, the Bills need to tread lightly if they’re considering keeping all or part of the $550,473 in base salary that Alonso is due to earn in 2014.