Patriots

NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith: Tom Brady's workouts go against player safety

NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith: Tom Brady's workouts go against player safety

Tom Brady has been scrutinized recently for holding private workouts with his Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The NFL Players Association advised players to avoid practicing with teammates to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Not to mention, cases of the virus have skyrocketed in Florida over the last couple of weeks.

But those circumstances haven't kept Brady from working out with fellow Bucs players and posting all about it on social media.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

The actions of Brady and other players who continue to practice during the pandemic aren't sitting well with NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith. In an interview with USA TODAY, Smith said Brady isn't acting "in the best interest of player safety." 

"They're not in the best interest of protecting our players heading into training camp, and I don't think they are in the best interest of us getting through an entire season," Smith said.

"I certainly understand how competitive our players are, and I get that. But at the same time, we are in the process of trying to negotiate, we have to negotiate with the league about what happens to a player if they test positive during the season. Does that player go on injured reserve? Do they go on short-term IR? If you test positive for the virus after training camp, is that a work-related injury? Are you covered under workers' comp? What benefits are available to you if you have downstream injuries from contracting COVID-19?

"All of the things that players may want to do during the offseason have a direct impact on how well we can negotiate protections for them once the season starts. We sent out the guidance because we think that was in their best health and safety interests. Let's just say for some of the players who have practiced, we've made sure that they've heard the message."

Watch below:

Players on several NFL teams, including the Buccaneers, have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks. We can expect those numbers to rise, especially if players continue to defy the NFLPA's guidelines.

As of now, the NFL is approaching the 2020 season with a "business as usual" mindset. Training camps still are on track to begin on time next month, and the regular season is scheduled to begin Sept. 10.

Patriots' Devin McCourty: It's 'an absolute joke' NFL is changing opt-out deadline

Patriots' Devin McCourty: It's 'an absolute joke' NFL is changing opt-out deadline

Devin McCourty didn’t hold back on a Sunday afternoon video conference with New England media.

The Patriots veteran safety took no questions during a six-minute session, choosing instead to make an impassioned statement about his belief that people need to stay attuned to the equality problems in the United States.

McCourty pledged his support for the cause of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by Louisville police when a shootout began after authorities burst into her home with a “no-knock warrant.”

McCourty also spoke about healthcare inequities, the “digital divide” underprivileged students face because some don’t have access to technology and the internet for remote learning, efforts to reach out and listen to minorities involved in law enforcement and the need for the NFL to have more diversity in coaching and personnel.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

McCourty then took aim at the league for reportedly trying to move up an agreed-upon deadline for players to “opt out” prior to the 2020 season.

A source told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, “Teams are concerned that some players who think they won’t make the team are choosing to opt out and to take the six-figure stipend." While players apparently would owe the money back to the teams if they fail to make the roster in 2021, no team wants to have to chase a former player around next year in an effort to retrieve $150,000 or $350,000.

“Another concern comes from an issue we’ve previously flagged: Some agents, per the source, are using the threat of an opt out as leverage to get their clients new contracts.”

“It’s an absolute joke that the NFL is changing the opt-out period, mainly because they don’t want to continue to see guys opt out,” McCourty said. “I’m sure they’re shocked about how many guys have opted out. But it’s the same thing when we sign the CBA, sometimes some of those things that we think are good, sometimes backfire. You know, we have rookies who are locked in long-term contracts and tagged and tagged. You guys don’t think we would love to change that about the CBA? But we can’t. That’s the point of signing an agreement.

“So I think it’s terrible. I think it’s BS that the league [wants to change] that date.”

So far, eight Patriots have opted out. The latest was tight end Matt LaCosse who reportedly opted out Sunday. Wide receiver Marqise Lee also opted out this weekend.

McCourty seemed to indicate he was still mulling his ultimate decision. Separately, he explained to me that – if he did want to opt out for family reasons at any time – the passing of an opt-out deadline wouldn’t prevent him from doing so.

McCourty encouraged players to understand the power they have right now.

"Monday will be our first day in the building, so to try to act like guys are trying to make a decision about something other than virtual meetings is a joke," he said. "When players understand how much power we have, we've seen things change for us; primarily even with this deal, with the COVID-19 and trying to get everything back. We saw some of that strength. Hopefully we'll see how everything turns out come Wednesday, if it ends up being the deadline.

"I support guys no matter what they decide, but I'm still out here having fun and figuring things out. So we'll see how we go."

The NFL and NFLPA agreed to a host of changes to the CBA to get through the 2020 season but those changes have not been finalized. The opt-out deadline was supposed to be a week after the deal was done. Because of the delay getting it done, the opt-out deadline keeps moving further down the road.

And the concern from some teams seems to be that a player who’s destined for the bubble may see the writing on the wall and opt-out. It’s a cynical concern but it’s also not beyond the realm for a player who was already on the fence about playing and then realizes he’s a longshot.

The other concern according to Florio is players threatening to opt out if they’re not given a new deal. Florio pointed out he hadn’t heard of that happening but he noted, “For plenty of players, a significant bump in compensation could be the difference between opting out and opting in.”

Objectively speaking, players and coaches are the ones taking the personal medical risk. Owners aren’t. For a key player to say, “What will you do to make it worth my while? What’s the additional hazard pay?” is not that absurd.

NFL players don’t often use their leverage. McCourty, it seems, is hoping they start to.

NFL rumors: Patriots place Sony Michel, Mohamed Sanu, Brandon King on PUP list

NFL rumors: Patriots place Sony Michel, Mohamed Sanu, Brandon King on PUP list

The New England Patriots will begin training camp with three players on the physical unable to perform, or PUP, list. 

Patriots wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, running back Sony Michel and special teams standout Brandon King all have been placed on the PUP list, according to ESPN's Field Yates.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Sanu had offseason ankle surgery in March. He suffered the ankle injury in Week 11 against the Philadelphia Eagles, and it prevented him from playing at a high level for the remainder of the 2019 season. Michel had foot surgery in May. The 2018 first-round pick had a disappointing sophomore season in which he averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. King missed all of the 2019 campaign because of a torn quad. Therefore, it's not too surprising that these players have landed on the PUP list.

In Sanu's case, he's been working pretty hard over the offseason to get back into optimal shape. He's posted several workout videos on Instagram, including some sessions that included newly signed quarterback Cam Newton.