Monday is April 15, which is Tax Day in the United States, Patriot's Day in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the day that 21 of the 32 teams in the National Football League begin their offseason workout programs.
Along with the eight teams that hired a new head coach this offseason, who began their programs on April 1 or April 2, offseason programs are officially underway in 29 NFL training facilities. The three teams who have to begin their offseason program — the Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans — are scheduled to do so on April 22.
Teams gathering on Monday for the first time this offseason are the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, St. Louis Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Washington Redskins.
These 21 teams are entering "Phase One" of the program, a two-week period that is limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only. The only coaches allowed on-field contact with the players are full- and part-time strength and conditioning coaches, and head coaches and position coaches are not even allowed to observe the workouts, which are limited to "dead ball" activities. Quarterbacks can throw to uncovered receivers and no helmets are allowed to be worn.
Participation is voluntary, but attendance is usually very high as there are workout bonuses at stake. Denver Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady is not expected to report to the team's Dove Valley headquarters, reports Mike Klis of the Denver Post. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Newtork, Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd is also not expected to show. Neither absence is considered a surprise as Clady and Byrd are the two remaining unsigned franchise players.
According to salary data obtained by Shutdown Corner, active NFL contracts contain over $46 million in workout bonuses, including 192 players scheduled to earn at least $100,000 by satisfactorily participating in a high percentage of his team's offseason program.
The largest of the offseason workout bonuses belong to current New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who can earn $1 million by participating in around 80 percent of his team's workouts. The second-largest workout bonus belongs to Washington Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orkapo, who is due $884,000. Jets left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson rounds out the Top 3 with his $750,000 workout bonus.
Eleven players are tied for fourth with workout bonuses of $500,000, including quarterbacks Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Mark Sanchez. Other players with $500,000 workout bonus are Jets center Nick Mangold, Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Tyson Jackson, Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams, Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams, and defensive lineman Justin Smith and linebacker Patrick Willis of the San Francisco 49ers.
49ers running back Frank Gore and Tampa Bay Buccaneers left tackle Donald Penn have workout bonuses worth $400,000.
Overall, the Packers have $3,672,500 in workout bonuses written into their player contracts, with 17 players due workout bonuses of at least $100,000 this offseason. The Jets are second with $3.355 million in workout bonuses and the 49ers are third with $3.2 million. Six NFL teams — Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, Houston, Pittsburgh and St. Louis — do not include large offseason workout bonuses in their contracts.
All players, even those with hefty workout bonuses in their contracts, receive a "per diem" for participating in the workouts. For the 2013 league year, each player will receive $175 for each day of workouts or classroom work. Participating in 100 percent of his team's workouts would result in around $5,000 in additional income, which for many players on the roster bubble, will be all they earn from the NFL this year.
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