Offseason workouts the next frontier for rookies to say “no”

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Peter King’s report that defensive end Jadeveon Clowney won’t work out privately for NFL teams includes a suggestion that Clowney will work out once he’s drafted, at his new team’s offseason workouts.

Clowney should indeed do that, as long as whoever takes Clowney signs him to a contract before doing so.

With players taking more and more of a stand against assuming risks and putting in work without protection or compensation, incoming draft picks refusing to go to work without their contracts being signed potentially becomes the loose NFL equivalent of the Northwestern unionization effort.

Currently, draft picks sign a simple, one-page protection letter, which promises that they’ll get the contract they would have gotten for the draft slot they occupy, if they suffer a serious injury during offseason workouts.  But with the process of negotiating rookie contracts so much simpler under the 2011 CBA, why not just sign the rookies to contracts before they show up for work?

There’s a sense among some agents that a stronger stand will be taken this year against working out without true protection.  And that would be a very good thing.  The NFL got what it wanted three years ago, dramatically reducing the compensation of the players taken at the top of the draft.  The least the teams can do in return is crystallize that limited compensation in the form of a real contract, and not merely a promise to later give the player a contract.

If the teams won’t, folks like Jadeveon Clowney, Sammy Watkins, Greg Robinson, Johnny Manziel, and every other draft pick should say, “We’ll see you when you will.”

38 responses to “Offseason workouts the next frontier for rookies to say “no”

  1. I love how they’re just throwing names in there to cover up for the fact Clowney’s refusing to do something. Again. Kind of like “Look these other guys might feel the same way even though none of them have refused to do something!”

    Every thing he refuses to do he has an excuse, and for every excuse he has a legion of people waiting to jump in and defend him to the death. I’ve never seen this kind of white-knighting for a player who’s simply coasting by on “I’m big and fast and that’s about it” and who’s actual football skills are poor.

    I can guarantee you if Manziel had done the same, outlets, pundits, and commenters wouldn’t be leaping to his defense. Ditto Bridgewater, Bortles, or anyone else.

  2. It sounds so simple yet what are the players going to do for the NFL if they do that for them? They already squeezed the NFL in the last CBA and maybe it’s time to reduce that salary cap in exchange for making the rookie contract process even simpler. Too bad the young players didn’t have any representation in that contract and too bad they don’t have enough votes to select somebody that is more focused in taking care of their concerns. You get what you negotiate for, at the most. And they didn’t ask for this kind of protection. All the leverage energy was spent in other areas. It takes very thoughtful minds if you want to cover everything, and nobody in the NFL in any capacity has the time and patience or responsibility to think of everything.

    There’s no game of pitfall if there’s no shortfalls! Duhhh duh duh duh duhhhhh

  3. A bunch of Billionaires asking unemployed, mostly broke kids to practice for them with no guarantee that they will be protected if they get injured, And these broke kids have to pay for their OWN insurance?

  4. DROY Sheldon Richardson would never stoop to this level of non-competitiveness. Hence why he’s the best rookie in the NFL and best young lineman in the NFL.

    Something Clowney will never be.

  5. Wouldn’t there be a significant downside to teams close to the cap? Example – the Lions with the 22M+ cap charge for Suh, they’re left with vitually no space until they can work out an extension. That would put teams in the mode that all that work must be done prior to the draft.

  6. This is the NFL in all its glory. Bossing around kids to work out and tear ACL’s,hamstrings and breaking bones just to see the same things they’ve done at their pro day and at the combine. If anything private workouts should be limited to scheme and if there is any actual physical working out then you are given compensation and injury protection. Only thing is how do you determine that player’s position in the draft when it hasn’t taken place? That’s the hard part.

  7. They might as well eliminate these workouts entirely and just have them in for visits to get a feel for them as players/people. I don’t blame the players for saying “no” to taking any risks before they are signed, and I can’t imagine the teams learn too much from drills that they cannot learn from multiple seasons of game tape.

  8. If I was agent , and had a players going in top 2 rounds I would not do workouts either. Now, having players that might go in later rounds and they have a chance to jump up in draft. I would take my chances then

  9. Makes sense to me for teams to get an up close look, if only to find an Achilles heel to exploit. All the more reason not to give a private workout.

    What about getting to know work habits and character? You need to know if players like Clowney are adaptable to the grown-up world of the NFL.

  10. There is all the college game tape anyone needs to evaluate draft picks, no need to expose them to extra risk for every interested team.

  11. It sounds good in theory but it’s not possible for all teams to sign every rookie prior to June 1st. Teams that use the cap stretch provision don’t have the cap room until that time but that’s after minicamps. There is no “legal” way around this so if this does become a thing, look for Pittsburgh, Carolina, Detroit, and Washington to be the most problematic given their sub $3M cap room.

  12. Most prospects have something to gain by doing all the requested workouts. Occasionally there’s a few who have more to lose than gain. Clowney probably falls in the latter category.

  13. Why on earth should teams take ALL the risk, ESPECIALLY with unproven players. When vying to make a team and make a lot of money, the risk you take working/trying out is the risk you take. That’s just how it us. Players who refuse to workout/tryout will receive less interest, thus lesser contracts/draft status, IMO.

  14. It does kind of make sense. It’s like applying for a job at McDonald’s and then you do a few runs on the hamburger line, you burn your hand on the grill, then you don’t get hired or paid for what you did and you have a burned hand with no job and then can’t apply at Burger King because your hand is burned.

    But it’s Clowney, so he’s lazy. But I still think he will go in the top 5… and very likely first overall.

  15. Holding out of workouts provides what benefit to the rookies? It is already tough for them to crack the starting line-up with the workouts. Would it make a difference in first/second/practice squad selection to start the season? How about learning the playbook? More injuries when they finally do attend because they are out of football shape? Most veterans who hold out for a new contract have a lousy season immediately after the holdout. They need the practice to re-hone their skills.

  16. Just one more example of the NFLPA throwing the young guys to the wolves during the last negotiation.

    Not that they are alone in this, the only major sports union that didn’t do this was the NHLPA (and they did it, just not as bad)

  17. Risk takers made this country great once. Those legislating out risk through rules and regulations erode that greatness everyday, just sayin.
    Idea time!-bubble wrap potential draftees after the last bowl game and unwrap them when camps open and checks are cut.

  18. I ask this out of genuine curiosity: Can someone please tell me when the last injury was when a player was performing work without protection or compensation? Has this happened before to a high-round draft pick?

    And yes – they should be protected.

  19. The players union has no idea what they are doing.

    whoever leads these debates and negotiations really gives the power to the owners..

    a scab league would never work.
    Hold your ground.

  20. Owners protect their interests (hello, local TV blackouts), and so should players. Teams have game tape, the combine, and pro days to study. That’s more than enough. And workouts are overrated to begin with.

  21. They already have an off season workout for all the teams, it’s called the combine. Don’t want to show your skills there? Then sit down, shut up and take your chances. There are already game film and the combine, individual workouts aren’t needed.

  22. Uh, you guys do realize that the article was about OFFSEASON workouts after they’ve been drafted, not workouts leading up to the draft, right?

  23. You’re looking for a solution where there is no problem. I don’t believe there has ever been a player injured prior to signing a contract that did not receive a contract commensurate with their draft position. Indeed, contract negotiations have become less of an issue since the last CBA, but there are times where teams and players/agents take some time to get the deals put together.

    As far as players skipping out on pre draft workouts, that will work for a guy like Clowney, but anyone that isn’t a sure-fire top of the draft player would be foolish to do so. These workouts are part of a job interview process and for a guy who may be a mid round type of player, they need to take every opportunity to impress their potential employers. There is still a pretty good chunk of money separating a third round pick from a sixth round pick.

  24. I still don’t understand the concept of private workouts.You have access to game tape, you see the players at the combine, and at their pro days. If you’re really thinking about drafting the guy then show up to his pro day, and make him run a couple of your own drills. Maybe shorten the college coaches drills. Plus if you’ve seen game tape, combine workouts and school pro days, and you’re still undecided, than maybe you’re really not as interested as you think you are. Mind should be made up way before these private work outs.

  25. I agree. Teams have enough on film, and can attend the player’s pro day. If they want a ‘private’ workout, then they should pay the player for the privilege.

  26. If you’re a bit short or light to play DE in the NFL, but excelled in college, teams might be interested in drafting you higher if the can see you running LB drills.

    If you have played LT your entire college career, but have T-Rex arms by NFL standards, then you might get drafted higher if you can show developmental skills at G.

    It’s the same with most players. If there is a chance that they can move up draft boards, then they will do it.

    NFL teams AND player agents should be the ones providing insurance for these kids. If a player is seriously injured during a pro-day and then receives a payout from an insurance company, do you honestly think that their agent will simply waive his/her 3%…

  27. Not picking on any particular player, but do you think Manziel (or any other QB) with his heavily scripted pro-day workout would be willing for an NFL coach or executive to step in after the first 3 throws and say “I’d like to mix things up… here are 5 different passing routes… I’m going to call out a situation and want you to react!”
    Firstly, the agent of the player wouldn’t allow it.
    Secondly, the player wouldn’t like it – especially if after those 5 throws, another NFL coach or executive from a different team chimes in with “Our turn!”
    And finally, a ‘team’ pro-day isn’t for a single player. It is there for all draft eligible players to be viewed – including some from nearby smaller colleges and/or players undrafted the previous year perhaps due to injury. You wouldn’t be asking just one player to change things, you would be asking multiple players.

  28. The NFL created this situation by moving the draft back two weeks. Who knows, maybe in the future prospects will give fewer if any workouts than they did before they pushed it back. Why would a first round prospect risk dropping a couple of rounds if they get hurt at the convenience of these teams.

  29. Not even close to every college player is invited to the combine fellas. I think a lot of these workouts are about teams meeting with players they are interested in, similar to an interview that most people would attend to get a new job.

    The problem occurs when there are too many workouts, which puts incoming players at risk since they want to look great for teams that are considering drafting them. Move the draft back to April where it belongs and this article/concern wouldn’t even be an issue.

  30. My favorite is the teams that don’t show up at a players Pro Day, only to think the players should come to them and do private workouts. What a joke. Non contact injuries happen all the time and if I was a player I wouldn’t go do any private workouts unless my pro day did not go well and I had to improve my chances of getting drafted higher and thus paid more.
    Clowney is not going to be drafted out of the top 3. I wouldn’t risk my future for some teams “dog and pony show” I’ll tell you that.
    Show up to a players pro day or shut up.
    The teams do know, that we know, that they are drafting high BECAUSE THEY SUCK… right?

  31. Sounds more to me like teams being lazy trying to get out of doing some of their homework. They have all manner of film to review already & the combine etc. Besides, the draft is always a crap-shoot, teams make a best guess decision based upon EQUAL criteria they ALL see and take their chances so STHU and use the tools you already have to make that decision. If you don’t want them then pass on them in the draft!

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