NFL Not Sweating OTA ‘Boycotts’ With Expectation Disunity Will Make Plan ‘Backfire Horriby’

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In spite of the fact that representatives from around half of the league have issued statements through the NFLPA stating the players from their clubs will be exercising their right to not participate in voluntary OTAs next month, the reality is expected to look much different, according to league sources, Mike Florio writes.

In an article about the league viewing the workout ‘boycott’ as a potential win, Florio quotes said source as predicting that “there will be no unity and it is going to backfire horribly.” And that sounds like a pretty damn fine prediction, to be honest.

While even the Pittsburgh Steelers are among the teams who have issued a statement claiming not to participate, we have seen their inability to stay united when forced upon them in the past, and it tends to blow up in their faces. Prior to these announcements, multiple players talked about their hopes that there would be OTAs, such as Robert Spillane.

“The replacement players already will be on the payroll. If/when veterans stay away, younger players will show up to take advantage of the extra opportunities to develop and to persuade coaches that they can be trusted with roster spots and playing time come September,” Florio writes.

“Agents will advise clients not likely to win one of the 53 regular-season jobs to show up for the offseason program,” he goes on. “Teams will sign undrafted free agents with a not-so-subtle understanding that they’ll show up for offseason workouts. And show up they will.”

The problem with every labor issue is the fact that there are hierarchies within the labor force, and those hierarchies have different priorities tied to many things, but first and foremost to their job security.

Those who understand that their job is on the line, or who are simply hoping to get a job, will want to show up to OTAs, even in opposition to pressure from teammates who are asking them not to show up to show solidarity with their union brothers who are taking a stand that, frankly, many probably don’t believe in.

Not everybody hates OTAs or thinks the risks are that great. Basically every statement issued notes that players work out on their own anyway. So why not work out with the team — where, should injury occur, they’re actually going to cover you?

Frankly, I’m very interested to see what the attendance numbers for the OTAs this year look like. It may be a lot higher than many expect, pandemic or no. The ultimate question, though, is really, how valuable are OTAs in the first place? Are they really necessary? They’re literally voluntary, so what does that tell you?

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