Franchise players can participate in offseason programs
As offseason programs open and franchise players remain unsigned and fans looking for something to worry about are now worried about franchise players not participating in offseason programs, the popular belief is that unsigned franchise players canít participate because theyíre not under contract.
Technically, they can.
In a memo sent to all 32 teams on Tuesday, a copy of which PFT has obtained, the league reminded the various franchises of the five categories of players who may participate in the offseason program: (1) players currently under contract; (2) restricted free agents who have received qualifying offers, signed or not; (3) unrestricted free agents whose contracts have expired and who may sign with another team through July 22; (4) players whose contracts have expired by whose teams retain exclusive negotiating rights; and (5) player who have been drafted but who have not yet signed a contract.
Players receiving the non-exclusive franchise tender fall under category No. 3. Players who have received the exclusive franchise tender (this year, Saints quarterback Drew Brees is the only one) fall under category No. 4.
That said, few franchise players ever show up for offseason workouts. A playerís biggest leverage comes from withholding services, and a player who isnít under contract may withhold services without consequence.
Still, Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney once showed up for meetings but not on-field workouts, despite the franchise tag. Also, players (as unsigned draft picks routinely do) may sign injury protection letters, which ensure that theyíll be paid if they tear an ACL or blow out an Achillesí tendon.
Months ago, we were told that Brees would not show up if given the franchise tag and not a long-term deal. He ducked the question earlier this week at a press conference, and thereís still no reason to think that heíll be there, absent a multi-year contract.
That said, much of the early portion of the offseason program consists of weightlifting and conditioning only. The Saints donít begin their on-field work until roughly the middle of May. So they donít really need him to be there until then.
This year, the OTAs have been cut from 14 days to 10, and teams are entitled to one mandatory minicamp. (Teams with new coaches may have two.)
With coach Sean Payton gone for the year, itís now critical that Brees is present when the actual practices begin, both for Brees and for the Saints.
Franchise players can participate in offseason programs | ProFootballTalk
I hope Brees doesn't show up without signing either his tag or contract.
So last year, he organizes and leads OTA's during a lockout.
Last year, we offered him a contract that makes him the highest paid player on earth, but he says he doesn't want negotiations to interfere with the season.
This year, we offered him a contract that makes him the highest paid player on earth, but he won't sign it and we franchise him.
Now he says he's going to skip OTA's because he was franchised. And with our coach gone he's needed more than ever.
Does this smell funny to anyone else?
He doesn't like the way the contract is structured. Brees has NEVER said the contract isn't big enough!
He wants more money up front. I'll bet it over on Sunday night.
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