In an offseason where players have had to rely on personal workouts to stay in shape, Waynes’ agent has advised him “not to do any football drills” and run the possible risk of injuring himself — potentially losing out on his $42 million contract, Sports Illustrated reports in a feature on Waynes’ predicament.
The same dilemma has hit many free agents across the NFL as they await to sign their agreed-upon contracts. Some franchises have yet to sign players because they are awaiting a team physical once players are invited back to training facilities. One owner has even been hesitant on finalizing a deal in fear “the season could be canceled (if the pandemic worsens) and he didn’t want to pay out cash he may not be able to recoup,” Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer wrote.
Breer said, from his understanding, that Waynes is sensitive as to how his concern over a $15 million signing bonus would come off given the employment crisis in the country right now, but Waynes’ reality is one many athletes — especially rookies — in the NFL are facing.
An injury could lead to a team backing out of a deal entirely. In Waynes’ case, he participated in the virtual offseason with the Bengals but has yet to finalize his contract.
The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) is considering canceling the entire preseason to allow players more time to get back into football shape. Now, many are being advised to hold out from training or risk playing in the NFL this season and beyond.
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Trae Waynes Uprooted His Family Before Being Paid
In respect to an NFL guideline, Waynes relocated his wife and two kids to Cincinnati, anticipating he could still get an off-site physical from the Bengals’ team doctor, Breer said.
He later learned the Bengals would not allow their team doctor to visit his private practice. While Waynes moved in good faith, he — like many 2020 draft picks — now are waiting for team facilities to reopen.
Waynes’ agent, Brian Murphy, told Breer that the Bengals’ decision has impacted Waynes’ readiness for the 2020 season:
He signed a nice offseason contract to go to the Bengals, be the man in their secondary, make a major contribution, and so under ordinary circumstances, he’d be killing himself to get in the best shape possible,” Murphy continued. He did do all the Zoom calls. Obviously, there’s no physical activity there, and he’d really want to be in the best shape of life, so he can play the best football of his life. But because of the Bengals’ decision, he can’t do that.
So yeah, he’s gotta be creative, he’s gotta find different ways to be at peak physical performance. But assuming he’s not doing the one-on-one drills, assuming he’s not battling other players, he’s just not gonna be where he otherwise would be in a normal year.
Minnesota Vikings Still Have Unfinalized Contracts
The Vikings have signed all their offseason free agents in Michael Pierce, Tajaé Sharpe and Anthony Zettel, per InsideTheVikings’ Will Ragatz, but have yet to sign any of their 15 drafted rookies.
The NFL is considering cutting rosters from 90 players down to 75, which could lead to some rookies being cut before they even meet the coaches that drafted them.
Training camp is slated for July 28 and the NFL is expected to announce more plans of unrolling the season later this month.
Follow Trevor Squire on Twitter: @trevordsquire