The Jacksonville Jaguars are in phase two of their offseason program, which means there is some light on-field work, beyond the rookie mini-camp this past weekend. The team has everyone participating, outside of a single veteran in left tackle Branden Albert. The Jaguars traded for Albert this offseason, but he's yet to report to voluntary workouts or even discuss anything with the team as he apparently is wanting either a new contract or a restructuring of his current one.
"No, still. None," Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone told reporters on Saturday when asked if the team had made contact with Albert yet.
It's a situation that has started to worry some fans and is clearly frustrating Marrone, but in reality it's a situation fans shouldn't be worried about, just yet.
"Probably I don't expect it now. I'm not going to sit here and lie," Marrone continued on Albert and voluntary workouts. "It would be like if I called you, let's say it's the summer. And you cover the team. And I called you up and you don't return my call. Now, it's getting close to training camp. I'm thinking, what's going on? I think what hurts me a little bit is - it actually hurts more than mad - that I just want to know. When you ask me a question, I can answer it or if Dave Caldwell asks me a question, I can answer it. I can answer them. Is he going to come? I don't know. Is he going to play? I don't know."
None of this is abnormal in a contract situation and it's not anything new to Albert, either. He's held out in the past and not showing up to voluntary workouts or speaking with the team isn't new. If Albert is trying to get a new contract or at least his current deal adjusted, which currently carries zero guaranteed money, he's not going to show up to workouts he doesn't need to and risk being injured. That's just smart business on Albert's part and it's hard to see why anyone could be upset with him in that regard.
The real frustrating part however, is that Albert won't contact the team and won't answer the team's calls. Now, we don't know if this is the team trying to contact Albert directly, or it's agent games and the agent is telling the Jaguars he won't talk unless it's about a new/adjusted contract. We don't know, because the only angle we get is the Jaguars side and they're telling the story how they should. They want Albert here, him to honor his contract and they're frustrated he's not here after trading for him.
"That is the most frustrating thing. I see situations a lot where players, I've had a player on a tag, I've had a player on a couple of things. ‘Hey coach, I'm on a tag, I'm not signing a tag, I'm not going to come for anything. But I'm going to be working out. I'm going to be training.'," Marrone continued. "I get it. That's the business side of it. I'm good. You just want to know where everyone is at and that's all I was expecting. I can't tell you what's true and what's not true. I can't speak for Branden. I can only tell you that I have not talked to him."
It's also understandable from Marrone's perspective, in that sometimes a coach would just like to know what's going on. I'm of the belief that Albert will report when mandatory workouts begin in mid-June. That's when he can start getting fined for not reporting and if this whole situation is actually about money, Albert isn't going to start picking up fines and leave over eight million in salary on the table.
"I think of everything. I'm one of those guys that go, okay, could it be this? Okay. Could it be that? I go down that list of things, so that's why I don't know," Marrone said when asked if he was worried Albert may never report to the Jaguars. "What I don't want to be quoted as saying is, you asked a questions and I say yes and you say Coach Marrone says... Everything is possible. Anything is possible. I can't speak for him so I don't know what to say."
As mentioned, it's hard to see Albert willingly leaving his scheduled salary on the table simply just to hold out for a new contract. If Albert never ends up playing for the Jaguars however, I will say I would not be surprised. The main risk Albert leaves open is how the Jaguars spent their second round pick. The longer that Albert is out, the more reps and expose the Jaguars get with Cam Robinson at left tackle. It's possible the team could end up feeling comfortable starting the rookie at left tackle and end up just outright releasing Albert.
When push comes to shove however, I believe that Albert will show up when he has to and we'll all forget about this by the time the first preseason game rolls around. It's not really a big deal. Yet.