JC Tretter says OTA boycott is not about protecting veteran roster spots

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As the NFL and NFL Players Association continue their peace-time conflict over offseason workouts in the second year of a pandemic, union president JC Tretter was asked to address one of the prevailing explanations for veterans not wanting anyone to get reps in the offseason.

Appearing on The Rich Eisen Show, Tretter addressed the opinion of Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians that veteran players prefer not to have offseason workouts (“[t]he veterans love that sh-t,” Arians said of a world without on-field offseason workouts) because they give young players a chance to develop — and in turn to threaten the employment of the veteran players. Tretter disagreed.

“My job and our job is to know what our players want,” Tretter told Eisen. “And this is what our players want. And we surveyed our players, and the vast majority of our players think the virtual offseason is the best for this year. And that wasn’t just the veterans saying that. Just as many young guys, just as many guys with one year of experience, two years of experience, three years of experience responded saying that they think the virtual offseason is the best thing for them this year as the older guys did. So that’s a narrative that just doesn’t have any factor or proof to it. It’s just used to try to divide the union. But we know what we want. We have players talk and we as a union are in charge of representing what all players want, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Without knowing much more about the survey (e.g., how the question was phrased, how many players responded, how many didn’t respond, and whether the young players who want no offseason program have job security), it’s impossible to properly scrutinize those comments and/or to determine the reliability of the results. Regardless, the notion that Arians or anyone else is trying to divide the union misses the mark. The union necessarily is divided; its goal should be to avoid taking positions that highlight those divides.

The work force isn’t homogenous. The offseason complement of 90 players inevitably gets cut to 53. Each of the 90 wants to be one of the 53.

Older and more expensive players necessarily must worry about younger and cheaper players, especially in a year featuring a salary cap more than $25 million lower than it would have been but for the pandemic. The more chances that younger and cheaper players have to develop, the more likely some of them will be picked for the final 53, over some of the older and more expensive players.

Indeed, Tretter has advocated no in-person offseason program at all, regardless of the pandemic. And given that NFLPA leadership typically consists of veteran players, the natural desire to protect their roster spots will influence their positions on policy and rules.

It’s unavoidable, given the diverse interests and realities of these union members. For some players (specifically, those with workout bonuses and those who would be less likely to make the cut from 90 to 53 with fewer reps), it’s important to attend. For any players who would otherwise be working out, showing up at the team’s facility provides a layer of insurance that working out elsewhere doesn’t — as the league pointed out last night.

The problem for veteran players is that, if they collectively don’t show up, the younger players get even more chances to prove that they’re good enough to take the jobs of the guys who aren’t there. For that reason, some of those younger players undoubtedly will be hoping that the veterans exhibit true solidarity and stay away, so that the younger players can essentially stage a coup.

That’s the problem for the NFLPA. Despite the existence of a broader brotherhood, the scramble for regular-season jobs becomes an every-man-for-himself proposition. For the same reason that players won’t give up game checks via an in-season work stoppage, players won’t give up their shot at game checks via an offseason boycott.

Thus, either the boycott will collapse or the NFL will see an influx of younger and cheaper talent in 2021, and some of the veterans who stood shoulder to shoulder from April to June could be sitting elbow to elbow from September to January, on a couch somewhere.

31 responses to “JC Tretter says OTA boycott is not about protecting veteran roster spots

  1. “and some of the veterans who stood shoulder to shoulder from April to June could be sitting elbow to elbow from September to January, on a couch somewhere.”

    I’ll bet it’s a really nice comfortable couch though!!!

  2. I’d imagine that most employees of any workforce would vote to stay home and still get paid.

  3. Why would Arians have any interest in dividing the union? That line of thinking doesn’t hold water.

    Bruce has had a long succesful career, he is on his last coaching gig, he can’t need money, he now has a SB as a head coach on his resume, amd over his career he has always been pretty plain spoken. Now Trotter wants us to believe Bruce has some nefarious purpose to divide the union?

    Bruce, as usual, just spoke his mind. One may argue that he is wrong, but not that he is part of some conspiracy.

  4. Most absurd reasoning I have ever heard. Why would you let someone who wants your job and is willing to do it cheaper, get the opportunity to take your job? A veteran player who still want to play should be really ticked off!!! I don’t get what JC is attempting. Individuals who want jobs are going to cross the proverbial line!!

  5. Al Gore: “I’d imagine that most employees of any workforce would vote to stay home and still get paid.”
    ——————

    Unless a player has a workout bonus, they DON’T get paid for off-season stuff. It’s “voluntary”.

    If my boss threw in a few thousand for me to go in on weekends to work, I’d do it. For free? No chance.

  6. scoreatwill says: “Why would you let someone who wants your job and is willing to do it cheaper, get the opportunity to take your job?”
    ——————

    Because TALENT wins out each and every time. Great that a young buck can do 90% of what a veteran can do at half the price, but coaches and GMs need that last 10% to win, or THEY lose their jobs.

    Saving money is not a GM’s priority. Winning is.

  7. Love the analysis on this. I feel for the rookies and young players who were sold down the river by the NFLPA (2 CBAs ago) with rookie wage scale, 5th year option, RFA. Play stupid games win stupid prizes, with a 3 year average careers the young players have to take advantage of every opportunity. Basically returning the favour. I heard there is no first or second year players on the NFLPA? Seems like Tretter and the union brought this on themselves. Excited to see Jordan Love get first team reps while pro-strike NFL elitist Rodgers sits at home, wishing they hadn’t signed this labour deal that is great for the NFL middle class.

  8. chefboyd says:
    April 15, 2021 at 10:28 am
    scoreatwill says: “Why would you let someone who wants your job and is willing to do it cheaper, get the opportunity to take your job?”
    ——————

    Because TALENT wins out each and every time. Great that a young buck can do 90% of what a veteran can do at half the price, but coaches and GMs need that last 10% to win, or THEY lose their jobs.

    Saving money is not a GM’s priority. Winning is.

    _____

    If a rookie can do 90% of what a vet can for half the cost they will 9 times out of 10 take the cheaper option. unless the vet is a locker room leader. a rookie should improve with reps and a good coach will get that last 10% and more… And at half the cost

  9. The league and teams are doing ongoing testing regardless, so why not just say players, coaches and staff who have been vaccinated are free to come in?

  10. If Tretter believes what he’s saying, he’s very naive. I don’t think he’s naive.

  11. Spot on , Mr Florio! Maybe the NFLPA needs to consider a newPresident. Veteran players should be setting a positive example here, get vaccinated ,show up for work outs and keep the team healthy. Tretter should be reading the vaccine data and ultimately coming to the logical solution that the Union’s efforts would be better served advocating VACCINATIONS!

  12. chefboyd says:
    If my boss threw in a few thousand for me to go in on weekends to work, I’d do it. For free? No chance.
    ==

    No problem, just be honest about it. Make it clear that since there’s nothing in it for you, and you aren’t contractually obligated, you’re not showing up. Don’t make up some lame excuse like you’re afraid of COVID when evidence shows many are not.
    COVID is very real, and some of these guys have legitimate concerns based on their own health issues, or those of family and friends they come into contact with.
    But we also know from their own social media posts that there are players vacationing out of country right now. Over the past year a large number of players have been seen or have posted pictures and video of themselves at clubs and countless other public gatherings, sans masks and pre-vaccine. Clearly they aren’t too worried about COVID.
    Go to a non-mandatory workout, don’t go, I personally don’t care. Just stop playing the martyr and pretending you’re deeply concerned about your employer’s health and safety measures when in reality you just don’t want to do anything that isn’t mandatory and doesn’t put more money in your pocket.

  13. Because TALENT wins out each and every time. Great that a young buck can do 90% of what a veteran can do at half the price, but coaches and GMs need that last 10% to win, or THEY lose their jobs. Saving money is not a GM’s priority. Winning is.\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\
    This couldn’t be more wrong. By saving half on the young guy, they now have cap space to spend on the real difference makers. Most teams pay close to the cap, so cheap young guys give you the room.

  14. Time for the NFL and the owners to really piss off the union…flip free agency and the draft.

  15. Just because you say so, doesn’t mean we will believe you. Unions protect the senior members at the expense of the junior ones. Last man in, first man out. Sorry JC.

  16. And how is it helping your young union members JC? Its not – its hurting them. Obviously you do not care as much for the lower rung union memebers.

  17. “I feel for the rookies and young players who were sold down the river by the NFLPA (2 CBAs ago) with rookie wage scale, 5th year option, RFA.”
    ___________

    That is so crazy and I think lots of people don’t fully understand the ramifications of it. In a league where the average career is like 3-4 years players aren’t really fully part of the union until after 5 years because the union sold out incoming rookies based on the logic that they weren’t union members YET. You actually have to make it to a longer than average career before most of what the union is about pertains to you.

  18. Many players have bonuses tied up to off season workouts etc…tell the guy making vet minimum to skip off season stuff and not collect that bonus.

    This tretter guy does a lot of whining about off seasons being difficult. Imagine if he was a retail manager making 40k and has had to work this whole pandemic. Or a nurse working front lines. I think they need to find a new guy.

  19. To say that players don’t get paid for the offseason may be technically correct since they get game checks, that’s not the practical situation. The NFL isn’t a 6 month job, nor is it expected to be a 6 month job by players or teams. If the players do this crap, the NFL will just start leveraging contracts with more workout and conditional bonuses — items that don’t have to be collectively bargained with the NFLPA. The NFLPA is needlessly flexing muscles now, and will regret it later.

  20. Doctors to grocery store workers out there working taking risks yet these guys who even on rookie contracts make more then most doctors do complaining about workouts lol they keep getting softer and softer even my Raiders boy I miss Tatum and Atkinson days….

  21. The owners and players wanted football to be all about the money, and now football is all about the money.

    What used to be fun is now just a bunch of billionaires and multi-millionaires all fighting over pieces of an enormous pie paid for by the public.

    If anything needs a boycott, it’s pro sports. The public should stop paying for this.

  22. kevpft says:
    The owners and players wanted football to be all about the money, and now football is all about the money.
    ==

    Football has ALWAYS been all about the money, my friend. That’s why they call it a business.
    The difference is that today it’s about a whole lot more money than it used to be, players have a lot more power than they once did, and technology and modern media help the average fan learn much more about what’s going on, and a whole lot faster.
    That said, I wholeheartedly agree with your second and third paragraphs.

  23. Never ceases to amaze me how people constantly side with billionaire owners who don’t care if they’re employees die young with CTE and are never held to the same “honor the contract you signed” standard players are held to. Poor, poor billionaire owners, always being taken advantage of by the people who are actually the ones we all pay to see play. Judging by many of these comments, should be a banner sales year for Robert Craft and Malcolm Glazer jerseys.

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