NFL Offseason Plan Could See Players Fight for Workout Bonuses

NFL Workout Bonuses Offseason COVID-19

Getty Za'Darius Smith #55 of the Green Bay Packers reacts during the second half against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 12, 2020 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

NFL players looking forward to earning their workout bonuses this year could end up having to fight for their money under the league’s adjusted offseason plan.

According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, the NFL and NFL Players Association agreed on a plan Monday for virtual offseason workout programs that will be voluntary for both teams and players, leaving the door open for clubs to decide against holding virtual workouts.

Per Graziano, if both sides agree on a program, players will be expected to follow the regular routine of offseason training and complete their workouts at home. Players without the necessary equipment are also being offered a $1,500 stipend to purchase it. But if teams choose not to hold virtual workouts, they could also elect not to pay out workout bonuses to the players due to earn them for 2020.

Players will be forced to go through an arbitrator if teams decide not to pay their workout bonuses, but an agent told Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that scenario isn’t projected to end well for the players involved. He even went as far as to say players who signed this offseason and agreed to workout bonuses “made a big error.”

Players are still eligible to earn their workout bonuses if their respective teams do, in fact, go through with the virtual offseason; though, the benchmarks for earning those bonuses — used to incentivize participation in offseason workouts — are subject to change on a team-by-team basis.

According to a memo obtained by The Associated Press, teams are allowed to hold classroom instruction, workouts and non-football educational programs with their players during the three-week virtual offseason, which would run from April 20 to May 15. Teams must begin their virtual programs prior to April 28 and are not allowed to save the virtual weeks for later use once facilities are opened again.

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How Many NFL Players Stand to Lose Bonuses?

More than 250 players have workout bonuses in their contracts for the 2020 season, per Spotrac.  Eighteen of them are in line to make $500,000 or more with a third of those highest earners under contract with the Green Bay Packers.

Packers outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith ($750,000) and Preston Smith ($650,000) have the two biggest offseason workout bonuses, while four other Packers are also among the $500K club: quarterback Aaron Rodgers, wide receiver Davante Adams, left tackle David Bakhtiari and safety Adrian Amos. The Packers also recently agreed to pay $250,000 workout bonuses to linebacker Christian Kirksey and right tackle Ricky Wagner, who both signed with the team in free agency.

But the Packers are hardly alone.

The Carolina Panthers are also currently expected to pay out a reasonable amount of money for workout bonuses with strong safety Juston Burris ($600,00) just behind the Packers’ Smiths. Both center Matt Paradis and defensive end Kawann Short also stand to make $500,000 each.

Several mid-range workout bonuses are also set to be paid out in Las Vegas this year. Three Raiders are each due bonuses of $350,000 while another four can each earn $250,000 — including recently signed linebacker Cory Littleton.

Other notable names tied to sizable workout bonuses include: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo ($600,000); Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford ($500,000); Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins ($500,000), Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller ($500,000), Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller ($500,000), New England Patriots wideout Julian Edelman ($300,000); Los Angeles Chargers wideout Keenan Allen ($250,000); Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce ($250,000); Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater ($250,000) and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. ($250,000).

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