It’s voluntary OTAs. So, at the end of the day, it’s not a big deal that veteran Bucs aren’t showing up to One Buc Place to participate with their teammates.
Even Bruce Arians knows it isn’t a big deal.
“No negotiations – I just told them, ‘Don’t be here.’,” Arians said Tuesday when asked about veterans attending voluntary OTAs. “I would love to have you in the meetings, watching film and doing some team building so we’ve got some guys coming in and out. But if you were a starter, you weren’t going to be on the field anyway.”
Some veterans are working out/practicing on their own. Outside of One Buc Place. At the end of the day, it’s their choice. But there’s a risk involved.
It’s the risk of injury. But it’s not your typical injury risk. Per NFL rules, teams have the right to forfeit a player’s salary if he’s injured working out outside of their respective team’s facilities.
Tom Brady held a workout session at the New York Yankees’ spring training complex before Tuesday’s voluntary OTAs. We don’t know how many veteran Bucs showed up, but we do know Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate, Giovani Bernard, and what appears to be Blaine Gabbert showed up based off Brady’s Instagram post.
By Tom Brady‘s Instagram, looks like several Bucs players worked out at the Yankees complex in Tampa in advance of first OTA practice Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/PowtIuGJDP
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) May 24, 2021
Those five players will combine for a little over $22 million in base salary this season. The Bucs have a right to forfeit that money if they were to get hurt. It would be a tremendous loss if this were to happen. Especially for Godwin, who is slated to make essentially $16 million in 2021.
Denver’s Ja’Wuan James is the poster boy for this situation. He injured himself while working out off-site and the Broncos declined his $10 million base salary and his $5 million roster bonus.
Now, no one is saying the Bucs would do something like this and it’s certainly not a finger-wag at the veterans who are doing their own thing. But it’s certainly something worth mentioning and keeping in the back of one’s mind. Life -much like the NFL- is unexpected. You never know what’s around the corner.
“Yeah, I’ve talked to them every day about doing it for their own protection,” Arians told reporters if he’d prefer the veteran Bucs to work out at One Buc as opposed to outside the facility.
And it also goes beyond protecting themselves. There is football value in working out at the AdventHealth Training Center, as well.
“It’s huge but last year was so different because of the pandemic. This year they can be here,” Arians said. “Like I said, they wouldn’t be practicing, but they could be working on this field. I’d love to see them all out here together.”
The Bucs have had exceptionally good injury luck over the last two seasons, so here’s to hoping -for the players’ sakes- that it continues for a couple of more months.