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One Jaguars player believes fines could deter free agents

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In the aftermath of the NFLPA letter, one Jaguars player believes the amount of fines could deter players from coming to the team

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

“You as players may want to consider this when you have a chance to select your next club.”

This was the final line of the NFL Players Association letter which made rounds round the league regarding the grievances filed by the NFLPA on behalf of Jaguars players Monday. Particularly Dante Fowler Jr. who was fined upwards to $700,000 for missing voluntary offseason rehab in 2018.

“In the offseason you have players from other leagues they come and ask me about the fines like ‘is it true y'all getting fined for stuff like this?’ and they laugh at us because they think that I’m lying,” Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye told members of the media shortly after practice today.

The Jaguars’ number one cornerback has been fined before by the team in 2017 — his first season with the Jaguars. Typically players will find their own methods and how to go about treatment or rehabilitation, however, the Jaguars mandated the players use their methods instead.

“I’ve been taught not to really go to things that don’t work for me,” said Bouye when asked about his fine. “But what don’t work for me might work for somebody else and they’re gonna force everyone to do it and I didn’t show up because I did something else.”

Being forced to participate in an activity that you feel does not benefit you can be detrimental to your workout regimen or in your own personal recovery, however, players do have to participate if the team mandates it. An issue arises when players are forced to come during the voluntary portion of the offseason which is not a finable offense according the NFL-NFLPA collective bargaining agreement.

“I paid the fine, I tried to appeal I couldn’t -- like alright even though it doesn’t benefit me I’m still gonna do it.”

For younger players, Bouye says the fines could affect their bank account dramatically. For example, Jaguars undrafted free agent rookie safety Andrew Wingard earns a base salary of $495,000 per year.

“This isn’t even like a big hit, or some type of penalty where you get fined, this is something coming in here and it’s just like those guys — younger guys who weren’t even given a chance — they’re getting fined right then. It sucks for [them].”

These unnecessary fines could have an impact on how many players may think about joining the team in the future as far as free agency before and even during the season. The trust between the organization and players around the league has been broken under the leadership of Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin.

Bouye has had players around the league ask him about the fine situation in Jacksonville, and he says they couldn’t believe it. He feels players may be deterred from coming to Jacksonville based on that alone.

“I would think so only cause I had players ask me about it,” Bouye told Big Cat Country when asked if the fines could deter players from joining the team in free agency. “I just told them my experiences, I didn’t tell them about everybody else but they just couldn’t believe it, nobody ever want to lose that much money.”

The Jaguars have accounted for over 25% of the grievances filed by players, the NFLPA said in a statement released yesterday. An exuberant amount which impacts not only the players’ lives, but could impact their happiness with the team itself.

“Even when you feel like you can’t talk to people about it, when you lose that much money that makes you feel a certain type of way. So you know there’s a lot of guys that get upset, we just have to find a way to push through it right now.”