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JC Tretter on running backs’ leverage: I can’t recommend faking injuries, at least publicly

NFL Players Association President JC Tretter offered some interesting comments this week when asked about running backs’ frustrations with their inability to get the kinds of long-term contracts they’re seeking.

Asked on Ross Tucker’s podcast if running backs like Saquon Barkley should claim they’re not 100 percent healthy as a means of holding out, Tretter said that he couldn’t recommend faking injuries publicly, but he didn’t exactly rule it out, either.

“You need to try to create as much leverage as you possibly can,” Tretter said. “And that’s the tough thing with the franchise tag, or being restricted in movement, is it decreases your leverage, but then you have to find creative ways to build leverage elsewhere. I think we’ve seen issues — now, I don’t think anybody would say they were fake injuries, but we’ve seen players who didn’t want to be where they currently are, have injuries that made them unable to practice and play, but you’re not able to get fined, and you’re not able to be punished for not reporting. So there are issues like that. I don’t think I’m allowed to ever recommend that, at least publicly, but I think each player needs to find a way to build up leverage to try to get a fair deal. And that’s really what all these guys are looking for, is to be compensated fairly.”

Even as he was careful to say he wasn’t recommending that players fake injuries, it’s surprising that Tretter would leave open the possibility of it at all. For Barkley and Josh Jacobs, the two running backs who have not signed their franchise tags, it wouldn’t necessarily do any good — the two of them are expected to sit out training camp regardless of whether they’re healthy enough to practice or not. But Tretter’s comments will open the door to scrutiny on other players who aren’t happy in their current situations and may be looking for an excuse not to practice or play.