If Robert Griffin III is not back at Redskins Park rehabbing his injured right knee yet, he should be soon. The coaches’ parking lot there is full as the staff evaluates the team’s current players and prepares for free agency and the draft.
Since it is not a huge building, it is likely that Griffin will run in to Mike and Kyle Shanahan or quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur at some point. And when they do cross paths they might want to talk a little football. You know, things like possible changes in the playbook, what they can do to improve the team on third down, and other such topics.
The only thing is, they can’t.
The collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011 specifies that between the end of the season and the start of offseason conditioning program players can’t be involved in any “group or individual meetings with coaches”. A “meeting” could be interpreted as any conversation between a player and a coach. So, to steer clear of the fine that could result from such a “meeting” it would be best for Griffin or any other player in the building to avoid talk to coaches about anything beyond the weather and where they went on vacation.
That’s not all that’s odd. Let’s say Kirk Cousins drops by the facility and Aldrick Robinson is in Ashburn and they want to go out to the bubble and practice some pass routes. Well, they can do that as long as there is not a football involved. That’s right, no activities involving a football can take place at the team facility until the offseason workout program begins. Even then, it can only be quarterbacks throwing to uncovered receivers.
The union had these provisions put into the CBA because football was starting to become a year-round job. They didn’t want Quarterback A being afraid to return to school to get his degree because he knew that Quarterback B, his competition for the starting job, was showing up at the facility every day in February and March throwing to the receivers and getting in a little film study with the offensive coordinator. And they wanted players to be able to take a legitimate physical and mental break from the game.
That’s all well and good. But the one size fits all approach tends to work against players like RG3, who has his degree from Baylor and is the unquestioned starter as soon as his knee allows. Not being able to watch game film with Kyle slows his development. It also might drive Cousins and Robinson to go toss a football around at a local high school field where conditions might not be as safe as they are on the field turf at Redskins Park.
There has been talk that the rules will be tweaked after trying them out for a while. This is the second offseason operating under this CBA and so far there has been no talk of change.