Jabrill Peppers addresses decision to sign participation agreement


I argue every year that draft picks should refuse to participate in practice before signing their rookie contracts. So, in theory, I fully supported the refusal of Browns safety Jabrill Peppers to not sign a participation agreement that would have allowed him to practice at the team’s rookie minicamp on Friday.

But the situation with Peppers contained a unique distinction from most incoming rookies. For players like Peppers (and 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster) who failed a drug test at the Scouting Combine and who therefore face enhanced drug testing once they show up for work, it makes sense to point out that, by refusing to sign a participation agreement and by not having a contract in place, Peppers avoided the commencement of formal NFL drug testing.

Regardless of that wrinkle, Peppers surely had a reason for not signing a document that every draft pick without a contract has signed since Shawne Merriman refused to do it in 2005. That reason has not been specifically articulated, however.

The potential reasons are limited to a handful of possibilities: (1) Peppers wanted his rookie contract and refused to work without it; (2) Peppers hoped to avoid drug testing; or (3) Peppers blindly followed advice from his agents that was provided to him without explanation.

Based on Peppers’ comments to the media from Saturday, Option No. 3 seems to be the winner.

After making it clear to reporters that he wanted to practice on Friday, Peppers said he communicated to his agents that he wants to sign the document and practice.

“Absolutely,” Pepper said. “I definitely think that was part of the reason they got it squared away for me today. You pay them for a reason for things like that. They handle the business aspect of it. I just try to perform my best on the field. . . . You do hire an agent for a reason for things like that. It sucks, but at the end of the day, this is my profession now so some things come with the job.”

Peppers separately rejected Option No. 2.

“That is your speculation,” Peppers said regarding the potential desire to avoid drug testing. “I don’t know why you think of me like that, but everyone is entitled to an opinion. What you think of me is no skin off my teeth. I am not worried about anything but being the best football player and person I can be.”

It’s nothing personal against Peppers, who later told reporters to “[s]top asking questions about” the drug testing angle. It’s simply an assessment of the circumstances. And with still no precise reason provided for Peppers joining an extremely short list of draft picks to refuse to sign a participation agreement, it’s fair to wonder why the agreement wasn’t signed on Friday, and why things changed so sharply in one day.

10 responses to “Jabrill Peppers addresses decision to sign participation agreement

  1. Then he would get the same rookie deal he would have received if he hadn’t broken his knee cap. That’s the point of the participation agreement it allows players to practice without risk that if they get hurt without a contract the team is bound to providing them the same contract as if they weren’t hurt. The fact that the rookie cap and slotting occurs he would have been fine.

  2. I feel bad for the Browns…and being a Lions fan that says a lot. I hope this guy turns out to be a baller but there are definitely some red flags.

  3. I can see these guys who have not signed a contract missing the so called Rookie camp. No big deal. No pay no play is fine with me. Why should the NFL have the upper hand. Move the camps starting time back.

    Yes by not signing this guy avoids testing but even his agent would tell them that only last so long and like it or not your going to be tested.

    I still see this guy as a flop. As an M fan I was under impressed with him. Cant tackle, can play linebacker, may be an okay corner or special team guy but he aint no star

  4. I’m another Michigan fan, and I’m glad the Lions didn’t draft Peppers. He is a great athlete and has a great personality, but he is only an average football player. He could get by in college on his athletic prowess alone, but that won’t work in the NFL. There are quite a few fast guys in the NFL that are not great football players.

    He has always felt entitled and has been pampered since grade school. He is not nearly as good as he thinks he is, which will become evident in the NFL.

  5. Who knows. 220 some question marks plus free agents. Maybe they show up on the field.

  6. Boy… some real Jabrill Peppers hate. Wow. As a U of M fan, I don’t see how you can be anything other than enamored with Peppers. I wish the Lions did draft him. I get what people say about not being spectacular simply because he didn’t put up flashy numbers at any one position. But coaches are paid to learn a player’s football IQ and capacity to learn, adapt, and play at a high level. He did all these things while playing about 6 positions. He’s fast, strong, good tackler, and good ball skills. My only knock is that he had a few chances for INTs that got away. But when you evaluate him, you have to understand what he was being asked to do. I see shades of Polamalu with the added ability to run the ball in certain packages. That doesn’t even include his special teams contributions. But if the Browns allow him to play the hybrid Safety position that Polamalu played… look out. And when he only has to learn one position he’s going to be great. There’s a lot to be said about attitude. He’s positive to a fault but has that grit and drive to be the best. That’s rare. Now, I will admit there’s a red flag about not signing the practice agreement, but until he tests positive (he will be tested), give him a break.

  7. How to tell if someone is a Michigan fan: just wait, they’ll tell you without you having to ask.

    Peppers will be a bust. And I’m not a fan of UofM or any of their rivals. I’m just not blind.

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