Broncos tackle Ja’Wuan James tore his Achilles’ in May. There is some hope he may be able to return late in the 2021 season. He signed a 4-year, $51 million in 2019 then opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. James then suffered the injury while getting in shape away from the Broncos facility.
Players are hurt every offseason. Some get hurt at the team facility. Some get hurt away from the team facility. The latter may lose their salary, medical care, pension, and other benefits. James could be out $10 million. It is due to CBA. Coaches want players to workout at the facility. There they can monitor where players are and have them work with trainers, nutritionists, and coaches. So part of the last few CBAs have protected players when they get injured working out at the team facility.
If players skip the team facility, they accept the risk. However, with a significant portion of the league intending to work out away from team facilities due to COVID-19, players may be weighing the risk of injury and the virus.
Plenty has changed since last season between treatment and vaccines. Yet some players must be concerned with their teammates who caught the virus and had ineffective seasons. Either could cost them their job or their next deal.
Players must be wondering if and how they can safely get into shape for the season. The CBA was not intended to deal with a pandemic.
This should be an opportunity for the new brain trust of Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith to get players to buy into the Falcons and show this is not just another team. After all, the Falcons were unable to kick off the new era with a slew of flashy signings and hype. The team has had a losing record for years. How do you develop a culture with remote meetings and limited spending before you even have a chance to play a single game?
The Falcons should voluntarily give players the peace of mind they need to safely get in shape during this offseason. If players are preparing for the season, it should not matter if they are injured at home or at Flowery Branch.
The Falcons can recognize that and guarantee those 2021 contracts for training injuries occurring outside of team headquarters.
The small token could pay dividends for Fontenot and Smith. Make sure players are in the best shape they can be in and show the Falcons are more than just another team. The new team culture can kick off with this common sense pledge to players.