For the most part, NFL coaches and executives respect the bright-line rules regarding offseason workouts. One of the exceptions continues to be Jaguars executive V.P. of football operations Tom Coughlin.
Said Coughlin regarding players who chose not to attend voluntary workouts: “We’re close to 100 percent attendance — and quite frankly all of our players should be here.”
The NFL declined to comment on Coughlin’s comments. But maybe nothing more needs to be said, given the plain language of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
From Article 21, Section 5(a): “No Club official may indicate to a player that the Club’s offseason workout program or classroom instruction is not voluntary.”
“All our players should be here” represents an in-plain-sight indication that the sessions aren’t voluntary.
The NFL Players Association has yet to respond to a request for comment on the matter. In 2017, the union pushed back twice against aggressive efforts by Coughlin to skirt the rules, from requiring players to submit to physicals to attempting to start the offseason program earlier than allowed.
This time around, Coughlin has handed the NFLPA a smoking-gun violation of the rules. Given a history of tension that dates back more than a decade, it will be a surprise if the union doesn’t try to take action against Coughlin’s decision to do a cannonball across a bright line.