As first reported on Big Cat Country last week, Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis skipped the first day of Organized Team Activities (OTA's). Mathis is looking for a new contract, and this is part of the process in obtaining one.
While some will debate the semantics of a holdout and if that strictly pertains to when work outs are "mandatory", the fact of the matter is Rashean Mathis is skipping practice in the hopes of getting a new deal. Due to the fact that OTA's are "voluntary" (and I use that term loosely) the team cannot punish Mathis for not attending. It may not sit well with head coach Jack Del Rio, who's been throwing minor fits the past few seasons with players who chose not to attend, even if they're working out elsewhere (see: Fred Taylor).
Former Jacksonville Jaguars beat writer for the Florida Times-Union, Michael Wright (now with ESPN Chicago) hinted at the hold out during the combine. Mathis told Jack Del Rio prior to practice he would be skipping it. Though, I'm not sure what Mathis is expecting to get as far as a new deal, but his leverage isn't really there. He's been injured the past few seasons and the team is in a "youth movement" phase.
One point of interest however, is the fine line between mandatory and voluntary practices. It's become more and more apparent that "voluntary" is not in Jack Del Rio's vocabulary, else he's using an entirely different dictionary than I am. "Part of being dedicated is making sure you’re here and arrive early. We had one guy who decided not to be here today. We’re all free to make choices. In the end, our choices lead to consequences. I’m not happy with it. I don’t support it," Del Rio told reporters today after practice. Del Rio also reportedly said "No" multiple times in response to whether or not negotiations with Mathis were in the process or if a deal would get done.
Mathis won't see any money, but Del Rio should lose some. His public pressure is a clear violation of the collective bargaining agreement. The league either needs to make these OTAs mandatory (a bad idea) or fine coaches that publicly flaunt the spirit of the rules. - Profootballtalk.com
Quoted for truth, as people on the internet would say. If the practices are not mandatory, then coaches shouldn't be allowed to publicly shame players into attending. If they are voluntary, they're voluntary. If they're not, they're not. There clearly is a blurred line that needs to be made clear.