Ever since the last collective bargaining agreement cut deeply into the amount of time coaches have with players in the offseason, coaches have been grumbling.
But now, a few of them are doing something they hope will be more productive that just yelling about kids these days and how it used to be better back in their day.
According to Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com, a group of four coaches (Ravens coach John Harbaugh, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, Saints coach Sean Payton and Panthers coach Ron Rivera) met with a group of league officials to discuss possible future adjustment to the work rules.
In the last CBA, offseason programs went from 14 weeks to nine, and only five of those weeks can include on-field work. Two-a-days during training camp went away, and contact during OTAs was limited. Coaches see a direct correlation to the lack of chances to develop players and declining play (while the league keeps telling us games have never been closer or better). And players are now forced to hire outside trainers to get themselves ready for seasons.
“We’ve had guys ask, How come we can’t work out with you guys?” Rivera said. “Those are the rules. We have guys that have to hire people to work them out. We can’t. So they’re spending their money on people working with them, as opposed to working with us. That’s just the way it is.”
Of course, it’s one thing for coaches and the league to talk about ways to add back to offseason programs. Getting players to go along with it will have to be collectively bargained in 2020, and that’s going to require more than just them thinking it’s a good idea.
It’s going to take trust, and after the last round of negotiations between the league and the NFLPA, that’s hardly a given.
“I understand all the politics behind it. There’s more than meets the eye, but it’s not American, it’s not common sense, it’s not right,” Harbaugh said. “The league has been great so far, the PA has been great, and I think in the next CBA it’ll get adjusted, I hope in a good way. If we can get past the bickering and the taking of sides—it’s not a poker game here, we’re not hoarding chips.
“Why don’t we just sit down and say, what’s good for everyone involved here? It’d probably take about an hour to figure the whole thing out, if everybody put agendas aside.”
It sounds so simple when he says it like that. But it’s rarely that simple, and that’s why they’re starting years in advance.