Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith has stayed away from the team as he apparently embarks on a plan to skip a season of football. In this regard, the Jaguars seem to be playing hardball.
Via LockedOnJaguars.com, Smith has disclosed on social media that the team has fined him for skipping the recent mandatory minicamp. The total amount forfeited by Smith for missing the three days of practice amounts to $88,650.
Smith complains about the fine, given his apparent decision to “sit & get [his] life right.” But the Jaguars still need to protect themselves. Smith is due to earn a base salary of $9.75 million this season, $5 million of which became fully guaranteed on March 17. His failure to show up for the mandatory minicamp arguably forfeits the guarantee, and the Jaguars presumably need to acknowledge the failure to report (by providing him with notice of the fine) or risk still owing him the $5 million.
Regardless of whether Smith wants to play football in 2019 — and if he doesn’t want to play, that’s his decision — the Jaguars need to protect themselves. Besides, there’s a major difference between informing the player of a fine and acting to enforce it. Unless and until the Jaguars send him a bill and demand immediate payment, it’s reasonable to conclude that they’d simply withhold the $88,650 from a future paycheck.
Whether they do or whether they don’t, a team shouldn’t be expected to abandon its rights if/when a player who has committed to playing football for multiple years into the future suddenly decides that he doesn’t want to play.