Yesterday, former Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill signed his rookie contract with the New York Jets. The Jets drafted Hill (who is represented by Jared Fox, Alan Herman, and Lester Archambeau at SportStars) with their second round pick (#43 overall) in the 2012 NFL Draft. Hill signed a 4-year, $5 million deal and joined former South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (represented by Maximum Sports), who was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the second round (#45 overall) as players to sign deals quickly after being drafted.
While Hill and Jeffery are signed to the teams that drafted them, the vast majority of players drafted remain unsigned. Yet, rookie minicamp begins for a few teams today. The Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Washington Redskins are beginning to work with their rookies. Are those rookies protected in case they suffer an injury?
The NFLPA sent an email out to all Contract Advisors earlier this week, which stated that the NFL and NFLPA have not been able to agree on injury protection language for unsigned NFL draftees who are to be participating in minicamp or a team’s Rookie Football Development program. The email informs Contract Advisors that it is necessary to discuss such injury protection language with their respective rookie clients’ teams.
In the past, the NFL and NFLPA have typically come to an agreement, which allowed for rookies to sign a standardized injury protection agreement. At times, players and their agents have negotiated with individual teams for more enhanced protections. This year, it appears that there is no starting point for such negotiations, something that many would consider an important part of any guide to work accidents which could happen in this environment.
Hopefully NFLPA Certified Contract Advisors took the email seriously and have taken the steps necessary to protect their clients in case they unfortunately fall victim to the injury bug.