Push it and you don’t really suffer. Follow the letter of the law and you do.
That’s the message I get from the NFL with regard to contact between coaches and players as the expiration date of the CBA approaches.
Tim Graham, who’s back to blogging the AFC East after serving as my personal assistant during our time together at the combine, details what happened with the Miami Dolphins here. In short, it seems like the Dolphins did what most teams would like to do but have resisted the urge to do. For doing so their punishment is ...? Nothing.
Better to do what Miami did and not ask for clearance than to make an inquiry and get warned as Cleveland and St. Louis did.
As it is spelled out here, before the official start of offseason workouts in a new NFL calendar year, “players are permitted to use the Club’s facilities on a voluntary basis" subject to rules including these two:
Such players are not permitted to participate in organized workouts, practices or meetings of any kind.
Such players may not be directed or supervised by position coaches during this period.
Per Jim Wyatt, the Titans had arranged a meeting for Wednesday with the intent of spelling out things going forward. The team canceled the meeting to assure it would qualify as law-abiding citizens in the eyes of the league office.
But what’s the advantage to that status as compared to that of Miami, which saw its quarterback spend time with new assistant coaches? The Dolphins can do that but the Titans can’t hold an informational meeting?
There seems to be leeway for teams to interpret things and move forward as they see fit, especially if they don’t ask first. Since the league isn’t showing a lot of spine enforcing things, who stands to benefit most?
Not a team like the Titans that decides to err on the side of caution.