Patrick Mahomes, other players confused by Broncos’ ability to not pay Ja’Wuan James

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The Ja’Wuan James injury, while bad for him, could be good for NFL players generally.

Players seem to be realizing that there’s a very real difference between getting injured while working out at the team facility and getting injured while working out elsewhere.

The news that James, who has (or at least had) a $9.85 million fully-guaranteed salary for 2021, will most likely lose that money because he suffered a torn Achilles tendon while working out away from the team facility was met with confusion by players like Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

“So they are going to take his contract for working out in the off-season???” Mahomes said on Twitter.

Yes, they will. They will because they can. They especially will because the NFL Players Association has tried to get players to boycott voluntary offseason workouts this year, prompting the league to directly remind teams (and to indirectly remind players) that any player who suffers a serious injury away from work risks losing his salary. In the case of Ja'Wuan James, the price could be even greater.

Mahomes isn’t alone in his misunderstanding of the rules. And, frankly, Mahomes would never have to worry about the Chiefs not paying his salary if he were to suffer an injury away from work.

Still, he should have at least an inkling that it could be an issue. Remember when a video surfaced of Mahomes playing basketball, and the Chiefs quickly slammed the door on that? Presumably, his agents would have (or at least should have) explained to him the consequences of suffering a “non-football injury” — which means any injury (football-related or otherwise) happening away from the team facility, a practice, or a game.

Every agent should be explaining to every player the risks or working out away from the facility. Salary can be lost, forever. Guarantees can be voided if the player misses even one mandatory practice due to the injury. Signing bonus money can be pursued and recovered.

The union should be explaining that as well. Instead, player leadership continues to advocate skipping voluntary workouts, ostensibly due to the pandemic but actually because: (1) veteran players prefer no voluntary workouts at all; and (2) some members of player leadership remain upset that a 17-game season was forced upon the NFLPA during the latest CBA — as if the NFL wouldn’t have gotten a 17-game season by letting the agreement expire, implementing a lockout, and waiting for the players to cave.

We always support the players. There is no game without the players, and fans far too often side with the owners in disputes between league and union. However, we can’t support the Players Association on this one, because it puts individual player salary and other financial factors at risk with no real benefit. The owners don’t care if the players skip offseason workouts; all this does is unnecessarily agitate the coaches.

Ja’Wuan James, who reportedly was working out at the team facility and left at the recommendation of the NFLPA, learned that lesson the hard way. Other players can now learn that lesson without losing millions of dollar.

68 responses to “Patrick Mahomes, other players confused by Broncos’ ability to not pay Ja’Wuan James

  1. The elite being confused about the rules the commoners are subjected to… never heard of that before

  2. It’s a good reminder – you get paid by your employer….not by the union or media.

  3. Us normal working stiffs know that we arent getting paid if we get injured away from our jobs. I guess this should be a new topic to discuss in those rookie symposiums the NFL conducts.

    It simply goes to show that even though these guys might be millionaires they are still youngsters when it comes to certain realities of adult life.

  4. This is why you should do your work at the place you work at. Can’t believe player’s don’t know they could lose their salary this way.

  5. The union keeps looking worse and worse. They don’t want in person workouts supposedly for fear of Covid but also won’t advise the players to get vaccinated to be actually protected from the disease. Now guys stand to lose millions for getting hurt while following the union’s bad advice. Did they even warn guys of this possibility?

  6. Unions should be looking out for the well being of the majority of their members. I don’t think the NFL union is doing its job. I am not a union person, but I think this union is sacrificing its middle class for the 10% ruling elite. [Where have we heard that story before?]

  7. While the NFLPA was pushing the VOLUNTARY-workout-boycott PFT and many other news outlets were pointing-out this exact scenario. The players didn’t care to learn what we all knew. 🙁

  8. The NFL doesn’t offer ST or LT Disability?
    Maybe players should take out INS policies?

  9. Sadly the NFLPA is acting like most unions. More interested in activism than actually taking care of their members. Even worse in this case, they are not educating their own members on the downside of skipping OTAs. Shame on them. The Broncos should refuse to pay James. The union can’t have their cake and eat it too.

  10. The NFLPA has done these players disservice by telling them to “boycott” these in person work outs.

  11. While I always found the term “non-football injury” odd when it referred to a player working out, it was pretty crystal clear from the NFL statements this year. Anyone that didn’t come to voluntary workouts and got hurt at home or a gym knew what they were risking. Unfortunately this does motivate them to not work out at all in order to avoid injury. They could always be like one of my former employees and hold their leg together long enough to get to clocked in then claim a work injury 10 minutes into their shift on Monday morning. Just make sure there weren’t other employees around when they actually hurt themselves over the weekend and actually care about the company / team enough to call out their lie.

  12. NONSENSE. Teams will NOT take away contracts of any star players who get injured while working out away from team facilities.

    You think teams want their players to AVOID working out during the off-season when there’s no OTAs? You think Bills will skip paying Josh Allen if he hurts his ACL during his daily 5-mile jog? Players keep in shape all year-round BECAUSE they work out privately while at home.

    The moment the NFL punishes a player for trying to maintain their physical fitness in the off-season is the day ALL players will stop doing it and then you’ll see players arrive at camp fat and out of shape. NOT HAPPENING.

  13. I feel terrible for the guy but at some point, you, and the people who manage you, need to be aware of the rules of a contract – especially one this lucrative!

  14. When you’re on the hook for nearly $10 million for a player who won’t play this year, it’s just good business not paying him. There is a strong inclination to leave year round where you play. So much easier working out at the team facility. When making $10,000,000 you can afford a nice house near where that facility is, and you’re also supporting the city you play for.

  15. arwiv says:
    May 5, 2021 at 10:35 am
    Us normal working stiffs know that we arent getting paid if we get injured away from our jobs. I guess this should be a new topic to discuss in those rookie symposiums the NFL conducts.

    It simply goes to show that even though these guys might be millionaires they are still youngsters when it comes to certain realities of adult life.

    __________

    Absolutely.

    If I get hurt or injured while at work, I’m most likely covered. If I do a side job for someone and get injured, I’m S.O.L and I know it.

    I assume it’s spelled out in black-and-white in every NFL contract and certainly should be something every agent talks to every player about.

  16. So theoretically no player should work out at all except mandatory training in the off season. This will make for players in poor shape when training camp opens. It’s in the team’s interest not to give the players reason not to get in shape. I understand not paying him if non-football related but this was reportedly not the case. Pay the man.

  17. When you’re on the hook for nearly $10 million for a player who won’t play this year, it’s just good business not paying him. There is a strong inclination to not leave year round where you play. So much easier working out at the team facility. When making $10,000,000 you can afford a nice house near where that facility is, and you’re also supporting the city you play for.

  18. James has earned, use that term loosely, 14M to play exactly 63 snaps in three years. Sorry for him regarding his injury as no one wants to see anyone injured. That said, if he has been smart with his money, he should be more than fine.

    Sad NFL players need something like this to happen before they understand how things work. NFLPA should responsible for playing whatever money he loses.

    Also, don’t assume the Broncos won’t offer to take care of him in some form.

  19. seems like the easiest way to deal with the voluntary stuff…if the teams truly want the guys to be there…is to one: stop calling this part of the “offseason”, that implies the guys are off and dont need to come in for anything, two: have all contracts attach a larger part of their annual salary to it, like 5 percent, not the measley workout bonus (thats extra money). if it becomes part of their salary than thats money lost not a bonus earned.

    might change players minds a bit..i dont know just a thought

  20. I wouldn’t call myself an NFL expert by any means but I’ve known about this rule for ages. How on earth is this news to the players? I’d expect them to know this above anything else

  21. Saying “we always support the players” implies they can do no wrong. That all their demands are reasonable. That they always act with good intentions. Which is wrong.

  22. I thought players weren’t supposed to get involved with other player’s money?

  23. All you high horse riding NFL apologists miss his point , if you can lose your contract while working on your own then don’t lift a finger unless it’s under the oxymoron voluntary or mandated OTAs .

  24. The NFLPA is using their players as pawns, without informing their players.

  25. I get it to a degree. It’s not like these guys don’t workout when they’re on vacation or home for the off-season… But the contracts seemingly tell them not to… Bizarre for sure, but all the more reason to understand your contract.

  26. “We always support the players. There is no game without the players, and fans far too often side with the owners in disputes between league and union.” There also is no game without the teams, and it’s time for media folks to own up to the truth that most fans root for teams first, not players. Personally, I support what is good for the game, and that includes labor peace, but I don’t have much tolerance for the players pushing the envelope if that threatens the quality of the product on the field or games being played outright.

  27. I’m not 100% sure, but I believe if the player is injured while at the facility the team has insurance in place that helps to cover the cost of the contract. Maybe not in full, but it at least helps to offset what is then considered a workplace injury. Making it easier for the team to essentially pay an employee even when they are unable to provide any work or value.

  28. Does the same rule apply if the player gets injured at home, not working out, but just by accident (slipping down the steps or in the shower, for example). Can the team decline to pay his salary then?

  29. There is so much money flowing through the NFL that the idea of not getting paid $10 million for nothing confuses people. Unreal.

  30. the guy got paid for 2 years and only played 3 games.
    .
    even if he’s cut, he still comes out ahead.

  31. Yeah if I get hurt playing a sport or pissing around on my own time and I”m away from work I get docked or take holidays.

  32. I would have felt bad for pretty any other player than Ja’Waun James. He has completely hosed the Broncos since he was signed.

  33. NLFPA issues aside, I 100% support the Broncos refusing to pay this guy another dollar. The guy flat out refused to play after signing a huge contract with a ridiculous amount of guaranteed money. He was injured season before last and even Fangio was publicly saying that he was cleared to play and didn’t understand why he wouldn’t play. They guy is another Haynesworth – he got is guaranteed money and then flipped the bird. They should be able to get it all back. $17 million for 66 snaps.

  34. “Donovan McNabb on line 1, Patrick. Says he has some news for you regarding ties.”

  35. This rule makes no sense. Athletes work out away from the facility all the time, like Jerry Rice running up hills or just regular workouts to stay in shape. So, the NFL is saying any workout away from their facility isn’t covered. Then, you will get a lot of out-of-shape NFL players coming to OTAs.

  36. Meanwhile, Rob Gronkowski was playing ice hockey goalie in Tampa Bay yesterday…

  37. johnodocks says:
    May 5, 2021 at 11:02 am
    Does the same rule apply if the player gets injured at home, not working out, but just by accident (slipping down the steps or in the shower, for example). Can the team decline to pay his salary then?

    ___________________________________________________________________________________________

    Does it matter? Do you get paid for not working if you fall in an accident and can’t work?

  38. Teams market themselves by posting videos of players working out together in the offseason. They praise the guys that organize these workouts. Players have contractual requirements to come to camp in shape.

    Despite promoting such workouts a contract is a contract and its on a player, his representatives and his union to cover risks not covered by the contract.

    When was the last time your employer posted a pic of you climbing up a ladder in your back yard to fix a gutter? Not unless you were participating in a Habitat for Humanity event sponsored by the company.

  39. This the worst labor issue ever advocated by a Union to the detriment of the players. If a player does not attend a voluntary workout then DO NOT workout unless you are willing to accept the risk. In a team facility workouts are structured and supervised to the health and benefit of the player and team. The long term health and injury prevention is often a goal of the voluntary workouts. It should also not come as a surprise if a team does not want to pay a player under a tight salary cap. The average fan works 40-60 hours a week year-round without the luxury of living in one location and working in another. This is a loser issue for the players and a PR disaster.

  40. mrdelano says:
    May 5, 2021 at 11:29 am
    This rule makes no sense. Athletes work out away from the facility all the time, like Jerry Rice running up hills or just regular workouts to stay in shape. So, the NFL is saying any workout away from their facility isn’t covered. Then, you will get a lot of out-of-shape NFL players coming to OTAs.
    __________________________________________________________________________
    Yeah this is confusing. Eventually the off season program ends and players have down time between the off season program ending and training camp starting. Are the players just supposed to sit around and get out of shape to avoid risking injury in that time?

  41. Rules are rules. Contracts have language in them to protect the player and the team. There is no reason to risk the rules and workout away from the world class facility the teams have.

  42. So basically Pat: NEVER leave the building outside of a mobile bubble

  43. of course…just like if something happens to me at home and I can’t do my job…I am out of a job with no pay.
    it’s life..

  44. To me, there’s a big difference in getting hurt working out vs getting hurt taking an unnecessary risk (or slipping on a McDonald’s bag). A contract is a contract, so I get why the team would try to recoup the money, but essentially banning home workouts seems counter-productive.

  45. I feel bad for James, but otherwise this is pretty ironic. The NFLPA chooses to fight the wrong battle in its war with the NFL and it comes back to bite them in the rear. It benefits the player and the team to engage in supervised workouts, yet the NFLPA is focused upon the exertion of power. The underlying purpose supposedly is player COVID safety despite the availability of the vaccine and the fact that players are pictured maskless in about a zillion venues worse than a team locker room or practice field. How players continue to support that NFLPA leadership is beyond me.

  46. And future free agents… deciding between Denver and another team?
    Might choose the other. Maybe a bad look on the Donkeys?

  47. No NFL team has ever had the expectation that all offseason workouts should take place at the team facility. I get that they want guys to show up for OTAs but you’ve never seen the whole team at the facility in February. Players are expected to stay in shape during the offseason, especially the ones making the most money. You can’t refuse to pay a player’s salary if he gets hurt working out on his own if you expect players to stay in shape. Playing basketball or cliff diving is different from standard weight lifting and cardio.

  48. The NFLPA has steered the players in so many wrong directions it is astounding. I’m an attorney and if I gave out 1% of the bad advice they have, I’d be uninsurable at best and disbarred at worst.

  49. The NFL doesn’t offer ST or LT Disability?
    _______________________________________

    Just in case you didn’t already know this, ST or LT disability isn’t paid by your employer. You are paid ST and LT benefits by an insurance company and you the employee usually pay the premium.

  50. THe guy is royally screwed, but a good lawyer could make the case that working out, regardless of the location, is his job. It is every NFL players job to stay in shape.

    I feel bad for James, but it looks like he’s screwed.

  51. I guess he should have showed up for the voluntary workouts ….. then he’d get paid

  52. Can’t wait to hear that idiot from the browns who had been clamoring for less off season work to complain about this.

  53. The payment withholding is absolutely necessary from the team perspective. They cut him, don’t pay him and the rest of the NFL players out there understand they need to show up to remain covered for injury.

  54. I am pretty sure staff at facilities are fully vaccinated for the most part to even be allowed in. Seems like a safer option than a random gym.

  55. Players come and go, teams remain the team. And frankly with all the gambling involved now, it’s more of a bet than anything else. Players need to be smarter. Unfortunately most are not. Mahomes is privileged, but he is also replaceable, so he better pay attention.

  56. I’m sure the NFLPA made no mention of the fact that you could lose your entire salary if you’re injured while boycotting off-season workouts in team facilities.

  57. Bottom line, attend your place of employment. Go to work! I don’t feel sorry for the players, they are boycotting the hand that feeds them.

  58. Ever heard of rules for your team? Well now he has to pay the price literally.

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