With plenty of veteran players having hundreds of thousands of dollars tied to offseason workout bonuses, the players needed to know whether and how they can earn those bonuses.
They now do. The rules of the virtual offseason program expressly address the ability of players to earn workout bonuses via compliance with the stay-at-home sessions.
“[I]f a Club elects to conduct any portion of an offseason workout program, virtual or otherwise, then the specified participation requirement (e.g., 75%, a stated number of workout days, etc.) applicable to any contract term contained in a player’s contract that is contingent upon the player’s participation in the Club’s offseason workout program (e.g., offseason workout bonus, Salary escalator, Salary de-escalator) will be based upon the Club’s total number of completed offseason workouts (virtual or otherwise),” the league’s Management Council explained in the memo to all teams dated April 13, 2020.
In other words, the player will be required to participate in the specified percentage of the total number of offseason workouts, virtual and in-person, that the team eventually conducts.
“For example, if a player’s contract includes a $90,000 offseason workout bonus that is contingent upon the player participating in 75% or 24 of a Club’s 32 offseason workouts, but the Club completes only 24 workouts during its program, and the player participates in 18 of the Club’s 24 completed workouts, then the player will be paid $90,000 upon completion of the offseason program,” the memo explains.
The example is a little bizarre, because as one source explained it to PFT no team uses a percentage as low as 75 percent for compliance. Most workout bonuses require 90-percent participation. Thus, the fewer the number of workouts, the smaller the margin for error from missing a day here or there.
For example, if a team has 32 workouts, a player with a 90-percent threshold can miss three sessions. If a team has fewer than 30 sessions, he can miss only two. If a team has fewer than 20 sessions, he can miss only one.
And this applies both to workout bonuses and salary escalators/de-escalators. Players whose base pay rises or falls due to offseason compliance need to be sure to participate in the minimum amount, or they’ll see the consequences in their weekly game checks.
So what happens if a team has no offseason program at all? From the memo: “[T]he parties reserve their rights as to whether or not a player contract bonus contingent on participation in an offseason workout program is earned if a Club does not conduct any offseason program at all.”
In other words, the league and the union will cross that bridge if they ever come to it. They likely won’t, because it’s hard to imagine no team taking advantage of the opportunity to conduct the virtual training program.