After Denver Broncos offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James suffered an Achilles injury earlier this week, the NFL sent a memo to clubs Wednesday reminding them they are not on the hook for the salaries of players who injure themselves away from the team.
The NFLPA took exception, as expected, describing the memo as “gutless” and a “scare tactic,” as the union and league continue to wrestle over the viability of the upcoming offseason program.
The union claims the league is hijacking James unfortunate injury to frighten players into showing up for voluntary offseason programs, which the NFLPA has encouraged its members to boycott due to ongoing concerns related to the pandemic.
“It was gutless to use a player’s serious injury as a scare tactic to get you to come running back to these workouts,” the memo read. “This memo is yet another sign of what they think of you and also affirms that they simply want to control you year-round in any and every way that they can.”
They also claim James was “working out to stay in shape under a program recommended to him by his coach,” and that clubs often honor a player’s contract who was injured improving their craft in the offseason.
NFLPA leadership emailed all players today, calling the NFL’s memo to clubs regarding Ju’Wuan James’ recent injury “gutless” and a “scare tactic to get you to come running back” as the union continues to urge a boycott of voluntary workouts at team facilities. pic.twitter.com/x3qmRyeaKl— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 6, 2021
Still, the Broncos do not have to pay James the $10 million he is due, according to the letter of the law. That is not to say, they will not find away to do right by him, but Denver technically is off the hook, regardless of how the union feels about it.
If players do ultimately boycott voluntary offseason programs and prepare for the 2021 season on their own, James’ situation could be an important precedent for any injuries that will inevitably creep up over the coming months.