Monday, May 17 signaled the start of OTAs across the NFL which initiated the start of phase two of the offseason.
It’s important to note that all of these offseason training activities are strictly voluntary. New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh was uncertain of the exact number of players he expected to report last week, but he has to be thrilled with his initial turnout.
Kim Jones of the NFL Network reported that north of 80 players showed up today at Florham Park.
At this stage of the offseason, each NFL team is allowed to have a maximum of 90 players on the roster.
The Start of a New Era for Gang Green
A year ago there was an ominous dark cloud hanging over the organization in the form of Adam Gase.
The former Jets head coach had a long and disturbing track record of rubbing players the wrong way. Many of those players, once they were safely away from the organization voiced their displeasure with Gase as a head coach.
Fast forward a year later and over 88 percent of the roster has shown up in droves for voluntary workouts. What a difference 12 months can make now that Saleh is at the helm.
When he was initially hired by the Jets on January 14, several of his ex-players took to social media to praise the move. The culture is changing for the Jets and it starts all the way at the top.
We shouldn’t take this high attendance number at OTAs for granted. When you look around the league several teams had lackluster showings. One of the prime examples is the New York Giants who had half the number the Jets did with only around 40 players, per NFL insider Ian Rapoport.
NFL vs NFLPA
Although we’d be naive if we thought the Jets’ high attendance number in phase two was solely based on the positive vibes around the organization.
What has transpired this offseason with the Denver Broncos has assuredly changed a lot of player’s minds with their decisions on where to train.
Now former Broncos offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James tore his Achilles while working out on his own away from the team facility. That last nugget opened the door for Denver to release him without having to pay him his $10 million.
Technically it was a “non-football-injury” designation, “which means teams are not required to pay players their full base salaries if they were injured outside of team facilities.”
The NFLPA has been advising its’ players against attending any of the voluntary workouts because of the COVID pandemic and because they’re in fact voluntary.
Some players, like James, have taken that advice and now are free agents without their salary. If he would’ve been injured at the team facility, he would’ve been fully covered.
This issue has struck fear in a large majority of players around the league. If they listen to the NFLPA’s suggestion that could affect their livelihood.
While on the other side of the coin the players that are showing up receive money, healthy meals, and get to work out at state-of-the-art training facilities. Plus for a team like the Jets who are starting a brand new regime led by coach Saleh, it’s critically important to learn the new schemes and concepts. It also doesn’t hurt developing some chemistry on and off the field with your teammates.
Regardless of the reason for the increase in attendance, this is great news for the Jets who are hoping to start a new era of winning football.