New Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden has lamented the inability to contact and work with his players through the early stages of the offseason. Gruden has claimed that players used to come work with him because they’re unable to work with their teams due to the rules of the collective bargaining agreement.
NFLPA president Eric Winston says that’s not the message he hears from his constituents on NFL rosters. On PFT Live with Mike Florio on Wednesday morning at the NFL Combine, Winston said he doesn’t have players coming to him telling him they want to see an extended offseason program.
“I always just say, people ask me about that and I say I haven’t been confronted by a bunch of players that want to go in earlier,” Winston said. “That’s where we’re at. I think a lot of players are really comfortable going to their own spots they like to work out at. They have their guys, their trainers at their home base, whether it’s somewhere they went to college, whatever it might be and frankly what drives this.”
As much as Gruden would love the chance to work with his players on the field, getting a chance to have football discussions with them is just as much a focal point of his argument.
“You’re not allowed to do anything,” he said earlier this month. “You’re not allowed to coach your players. I’ve called several players, introduced myself. I think that’s legal. I’m not having contact with everybody. … We’re not allowed to have any real contact. It’s pretty clear on what the rules are.”
Winston isn’t particularly sympathetic to those complaints either.
“Right, I’d tell them that there will be plenty of time for that,” Winston said. “Again, none of these players, whether they’re quarterbacks or younger players, at the end of the season ever say ‘yeah, man, if I just had a little bit more time early on, I would have got it.’ That’s the thing. Every year you see some rookies that get it and you see some rookies that don’t get it and they need some extra time to get ready and they were going to need the extra time anyway. I think that’s just where I keep landing on this is that whether you start March 15th or April 1st, late April, whatever it is, there’s plenty of time to get it in.
“And if you’re a good coach and you know how to communicate and to teach, you’ll get that stuff in. And sometimes that means pairing down the playbook a little bit for a younger player. That’s OK. That actually means that you’ll probably have a more efficient offense or defense, but a lot of these guys, I think, want their cake and (to) eat it too and sometimes that just doesn’t work that way.”
Like anything else, offseason contact between coaches and players can be a bargaining point in negotiations toward a new CBA when the time comes. The current CBA runs through the 2020 season.