Most Notable No-Shows at Mandatory NFL Minicamps
Mandatory minicamps are an extremely vital stage in every NFL team's offseason program. In addition to this fact, it is important for players to attend mandatory minicamp because, well, it is mandatory.
However, these reasons are not enough to stop at least some players from skipping the mandatory workouts each year.
The reasons for a player willingly avoiding mandatory minicamp can vary, but usually tend to stem from some sort of contract (in other words, financially based) issues. The problem with a player avoiding mandatory minicamp is that his absence can result in a hefty fine, per terms of the league's collective bargaining agreement, according to Pro Football Talk's Mike Wilkening.
The threat of a fine isn't enough to prevent some players from skipping mandatory workouts, of course. The story is very much the same this year, as several notable players have decided not to show up at mandatory minicamp.
Over the next few pages we will take a look at some of the more notable players who have decided that making a statement is more important than joining their teammates for mandatory minicamp.
San Francisco 49ers Tight End Vernon Davis
San Francisco 49ers veteran Vernon Davis has spent the past eight years establishing himself as one of the top tight ends in all of football.
Now, it appears that Davis wants to be paid like one of the top players in all of football and will be willing to stay away from workouts to show the sincerity of his wishes to the 49ers.
Davis recently took some time to clarify his position while filling in for Peter King on The MMQB.com.
"It’s all about getting paid what you deserve." Davis wrote. "I want the 49ers to win the Super Bowl, and I want to be on the field this summer working toward that goal, but I have to worry about my future first."
Since Davis basically informed everyone that he would not be attending minicamp beforehand, there were no surprises when ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Davis was not at Tuesday's practice.
Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Kyle Orton
Quarterback Kyle Orton voiced his intention to walk away from the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL earlier this offseason, and it appears he wasn't kidding.
According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, Orton was a no-show at the team's facilities on Tuesday.
Generally speaking, a backup quarterback's absence at minicamp doesn't make for big news. However, Orton's case is a tad different than some.
According to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com, the Cowboys seek to recoup $3 million of Orton's signing bonus if the 10-year veteran fails to report at all this offseason. While $3 million is a good sum of money, Dallas is likely more concerned with the state of its quarterback situation without Orton in the mix.
With Orton a no-show and with starter Tony Romo still recovering from back surgery, free-agent acquisition Brandon Weeden will be getting all of the first-team reps in minicamp, per Marc Sessler of NFL.com.
New York Jets Running Back Mike Goodson
Running back Mike Goodson has made plenty of headlines since joining the New York Jets last year, though rarely for positive reasons.
Shortly after signing a three-year, $6.9 million contract with the Jets, Goodson was arrested on drug possession and weapons charges. During the 2013 season, he rushed for just 61 yards in two appearances before landing on injured reserve with a torn ACL.
While his injury and issues may make Goodson a long shot to make the final 53-man roster, the running back was required to attend mandatory minicamp. He has yet to report.
Considering Goodson's overall situation, it wouldn't be entirely surprising if "dealing with" the situation involves releasing the five-year veteran.
Houston Texans Wide Receiver Andre Johnson
After spending 11 seasons as one of the league's most consistent wide receivers, it appears that Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson is determined to play for a real contender.
Whether Johnson wants to play for another team or is trying to push the Texans to alter their immediate direction remains unclear. What is clear is that Johnson is unhappy and has been staying away from offseason workouts.
According to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle, Johnson's adviser and uncle, Andre Melton, had previously made it known that the wideout would not be at mandatory minicamp.
This comes as a bit of a surprise, even though it will likely cost Johnson nearly $70,000 in fines. Johnson has already forfeited a $1 million roster bonus.
Winning is likely more important to Johnson than money at this point in his career.
Hopefully the Texans can convince their longtime star that new starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick can get the job done under center. Otherwise, this particular absence could become a lengthy one.
Kansas City Chiefs Linebacker Justin Houston
Outside linebacker Justin Houston was a force for the Kansas City Chiefs last season, producing 44 tackles, 11 sacks and a forced fumble.
Yet the defensive standout is due to earn just $1.4 million in base salary in 2014. A desire for a better deal appears to be the reason Houston has been absent from all of the Chiefs' offseason workouts, including minicamp.
Houston was the league's best overall 3-4 outside linebacker last season, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Therefore it seems to make sense why he feels he deserves a bit of a pay bump before the last year of his rookie deal.
However, Houston may not be able to afford to carry his holdout into training camp. Missing mandatory minicamp would cost him nearly $70,000, and Houston would be subject to a $30,000 fone for each day of training camp missed if he does not report by then.
New Orleans Saints Pass-Catcher Jimmy Graham
Technically, Jimmy Graham doesn't have to be at minicamp for the New Orleans Saints, as he has yet to sign his franchise tender and is therefore not technically under contract.
However, his absence is worth noting because of the reason Graham has yet to sign his tender. Graham wants to be paid the franchise tender for a wide receiver ($12.3 million) instead of a tight end ($7 million).
According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, system arbitration for Graham's grievance began on Tuesday, the same day as the start of minicamp. The eventual outcome of Graham's case could have a far greater impact than his presence at offseason workouts.
Part of Graham's argument is that he lined up as a wide receiver on 67 percent of his snaps last season. If Graham is successful in his bid to be paid as a receiver, expect other players to soon use positional snap-count statistics when advantageous in contract negotiations.