The NFL Players Association recently released a statement regarding the Jaguars’ repeated attempts to violate CBA offseason work rules.
“In a recent decision from a grievance filed by our union an arbitrator affirmed that, under the CBA, clubs cannot require rehabilitation or medical appointments at team facilities during the offseason and pre-training camp period,” the statement reads.
“Despite this, the Jacksonville Jaguars recently decided that they would require injured players to get all offseason rehab at the Jaguars’ facility. When players failed to attend these ‘mandatory’ offseason rehab sessions in Jacksonville, they were disciplined by the club.”
The NFLPA filed a grievance against the Jaguars arguing that disciplining a player for not showing up during voluntary offseason rehab is prohibited. The NFLPA then stated that the Jaguars — in 2018 — fined a player 25 times “for missing ‘mandatory’ appointments with the club trainer or physician.”
According to The Associated Press’ Mark Long, the player in question was former Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., who was — according to the NFLPA — fined over $700,000 for his absence. The Jaguars will now have to repay those fines.
“The jointly appointed arbitrator rejected the Jaguars’ arguments that they had a right to fine a player for not rehabbing at the club facility. He held that, with limited exceptions, offseason activities are “strictly voluntary,” and no club can make those activities mandatory.”
During the 2019 offseason, the Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin criticized former Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Telvin Smith for missing voluntary offseason workouts stating, “We’re very close to 100% attendance, and, quite frankly, our players should be here building the concept of team, working hard side-by-side constructing our bond of togetherness, formulating our collective priorities and goals.”
The NFLPA, Ramsey, and his agent at the time, issued statements regarding his absence and quoted the dictionary definition of ‘voluntary’, as a result of Coughlin’s comments.
This damning news from the NFLPA illustrates the dysfunctional atmosphere that the current Jaguars front office presents given their repeated offenses, and refusal to change under their current leadership, particularly since 2017 when Coughlin was initially hired by the team to oversee all football operations.
According to the NFLPA, more than 25% of grievances filed by the players since 2017 have been against the Jaguars.
The final line of the statement reads: “You as players may want to consider this when you have a chance to select your next club.”
Players will almost certainly keep these facts in mind when making the decision to join — or leave — the Jaguars organization at least with the current leadership in place. However, wholesale changes are still expected to occur following the season, and could very well involve Coughlin as well as general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Doug Marrone.