NFLPA terms league’s workout stance ‘gutless’

The chasm between the NFL and the NFL Players Association grew deeper Thursday when the union blasted the league’s response to the recent injury sustained by Denver Broncos right tackle Ja’Wuan James.

James will miss the 2021 season after tearing an Achilles tendon in a workout that wasn’t at the team facility. The NFL subsequently informed teams that injuries incurred in such conditions could be given the “Non-Football Injury” (NFI) designation, getting teams off the hook from paying the player for missed time, according to multiple media reports.

The NFLPA viewed that stance as a mechanism to force players to join teams’ involuntary workouts.

In an email to players that was seen Thursday by NFL.com and ESPN, the union wrote of the league’s stance on James, “It was gutless to use a player’s serious injury as a scare tactic to get you to come running back to these workouts.

“This memo is another sign of what they think of you and also affirms that they simply want to control you year-round in any and every way that they can.

“We have been in touch with Ja’Wuan James. Despite an open threat of an ‘NFI’ designation, Ja’Wuan was working out to stay in shape under a program recommended to him by his coach.”

James, 28, played five seasons with the Miami Dolphins before joining Denver in March 2019 on a four-year, $51 million contract. He played just three games in 2019 due to knee injuries, then opted out of the 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He is guaranteed $10 million for 2021, with the club holding an $11 million option for 2022, per Spotrac.com.

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