Agents will be key factor in whether offseason workout boycott succeeds

New York Jets OTA's
Getty Images

The NFL Players Association wants players to chose not to attend voluntary offseason workouts. Whether and to what extent this strategy works will hinge in large part on the agents who represent NFL players.

Agents have a duty to each player to represent his best interests. And agents won’t care nearly as much about the collective message the union wants to send when it comes to helping one specific player maximize his football earnings.

Plenty of players have workout bonuses, for example. The payments usually range from $100,000 to $500,000, and they require 90-percent participation in the offseason program. As one agent told PFT on Tuesday night, “If I have a player with a workout bonus, I’m telling him to go in.”

Some within union leadership would say that the agents who have negotiated workout bonuses into player contracts already have forfeited their clients’ ability to boycott voluntary offseason drills. With so many players routinely showing up, however, why balk at the possibility of getting a six-figure payment to do what the player was going to do anyway?

Then there’s the much bigger issue of young players trying to earn roster spots. Said the same agent, “If I have a young player trying to make the team, I’m telling him to go in.”

There’s no reason for a young player to do anything else. The NFL is a unique industry that has a unionized labor force of nearly 2,900 until (ironically) Labor Day weekend, when more than a third of the rank and file lose their jobs. Some get hired as lower-paid practice-squad employees. Ultimately, however, there are only 1,696 jobs on active, in-season rosters.

So if a young player with a low salary wants to make an impression on the folks who’ll ultimately hand out those 53 jobs per team, what should the young player do? The answer is easy and obvious: Show up. Get reps. Earn trust. And, potentially, win a job.

Although the ongoing pandemic is the stated reason for the recommended boycott of offseason workouts, it’s possible if not likely that this is a strategy aimed at making it harder for younger, cheaper players to establish a foothold with the coaching staff. This year especially, with the salary cap more than $25 million lower per team than it would have been, a team that can, for example, keep a young player at $700,000 over a veteran at $7 million will do it, saving $6.3 million in cash and cap space.

For the younger players, then, the offseason boycott becomes an opportunity. An opportunity to develop. To grow. To enhance standing. Potentially, to have a job come September.

With agents keenly aware of that dynamic, most if not all young, fringe players who are being advised by their union to stay away will be directed by their agents to show up. That dynamic alone could cause the entire effort to collapse.

Even though three teams already have issued statements that they’ll stay away, those teams are two weeks or so away from drafting rookies and signing a crop of undrafted free agents. Those new players most likely will show up in Denver, Seattle, and Tampa Bay — and in any other city whose veteran players prefer to protect their roster spots and game checks by giving the younger players reduced chances to take them.

15 responses to “Agents will be key factor in whether offseason workout boycott succeeds

  1. If Tampa Bay drafts or signs a rookie qb…should Tom Brady be worried?

  2. They’re going to need to re-do the CBA.
    The players are going to want less off-season stuff in return for that extra game. It’s only fair.

  3. Last I checked….. practice makes perfect. How does a team get better if they don’t? I would also assume that those that had workout bonuses would lose them if they don’t show up.

  4. The Billionaire NFL Owners should invite as many XFL players and Free Agents to workout during the time frame designated to NFL voluntary workouts, a mini combine , if you will. My guess is a lot of NFL players would show up if this were to happen.

  5. Why are they not to attend offseason workouts? Just bc its too much work for them? Bc they are worried about covid? If it is truly covid perhaps the players should post less instagram pics of them traveling the world during the off-season. I could try not showing up at the hospital i work at but i would be fired and not sure my patients would benefit from me not showing up.

  6. How do you improve at your craft if you don’t work at your craft? And if you’re a young player trying to make a roster, you better show up.

  7. This is one instance where the agents for the players are truly supporting their clients best interest. Football is possibly the last true capitalistic aspect of our economy. It is all about performance. The best get paid and the rest go home. The agents of the older players are trying to get an advantage for their clients by suggesting everyone should stay home and the agents for the younger clients are properly pushing them to attend.

    The teams that conduct normal off-season workouts will have a significant advantage come September. Further, they are likely to have less injuries in camp and the preseason.

  8. In every walk of life the ones who can bend the rules are the producers.
    If you are on a rookie deal and producing at the level of an average players, one who would make several million, then yes, you can boycott the voluntary workout. The team is receiving good value from you.
    If you are a backup, then you better show up.

  9. Off-season workouts are a comradery plus as well as the strength and conditioning coaches chance to work on specifics for a player. Treatments are an issue and these guys (53) are going to be together all year long. While you can workout from home it really is not the same at all.

  10. Imagine being paid 100s of thousands of dollars to work out and actually be upset about it.

  11. Offseason and preseason workouts are really important…. we saw what happened last year with minimal workouts… injuries were up 16% to start the season

  12. bradytrainersellsfakecancercures says:
    April 13, 2021 at 10:06 pm
    If Tampa Bay drafts or signs a rookie qb…should Tom Brady be worried?

    Hahahaha thank you for the laugh this morning.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.