NFL Issues Memo Regarding Workout Injuries, Contracts After Ja'Wuan James Incident

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 5, 2021

CLEVELAND, OHIO - JANUARY 03: The NFL logo is pictured before the first quarter between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on January 03, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Nic Antaya/Getty Images

In light of Denver Broncos offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James suffering a torn Achilles during a workout away from the team facility, the NFL sent a memo to teams regarding the financial implications of such setbacks.

Reporter Aaron Wilson shared the memo in which the league made clear teams are not "obligated to provide salary continuation during the year in which the injury was sustained" if it happened away from the team facility:

Aaron Wilson @AaronWilson_NFL

NFL memo outlining rules regarding Ja'wuan James torn Achilles injury and contractual ramifications for his salary, and that teams are not 'obligated to provide salary continuation during the year in which the injury was sustained.' pic.twitter.com/aYKLxapDUI

As for Ja'Wuan James, ESPN's Adam Schefter explained his "contract tolled last year, so he was playing under his 2020 contract this year, which had $10 million guaranteed for skill and injury, and another $10 million in 2021. So it’s a $20 million potential torn Achilles injury today."

James opted out of the 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was among those who reacted to the developments:

Patrick Mahomes II @PatrickMahomes

So they are going to take his contract for working out in the off-season??? https://t.co/rJK7xrqpv6

The NFL did not include any new information that was unknown in Wednesday's memo. In fact, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported such a rule has been in place since 1977 and suggested the memo was more of a message to the league's players' association as it fights for virtual activities this offseason.

The majority of teams have already made clear they will not participate in voluntary offseason workouts in person this offseason.

Such workouts were virtual last season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported the NFLPA said there was a 23 percent decrease in missed-time injuries and 30 percent decrease in concussions last year without the workouts and preseason games.

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith suggested in that same report that there shouldn't be a mandatory minicamp.

However, the league's memo underscores the risk for players when it comes to working out away from team facilities. If they suffer injuries away from the facilities, it could have significant financial implications.