Sunday, July 3, 2022

Which NFL players are sitting out OTAs? Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield among stars not at offseason activities

Organized team activities — better known as OTAs — are underway across the NFL as teams are setting a foundation for their summer workouts and building toward the 2022 regular season. 

As is the case essentially every offseason, some high-profile players elect to sit out of these voluntary workouts for one reason or another. Most of the time, a player sitting out of OTAs is contractual and they want to remain off the field — to reduce the risk of injury — as his camp negotiates a new deal. Then, there are other situations where a veteran player is simply enjoying the spoils of the offseason and doesn’t really need this prep work, electing to prepare on his own. 

Below, you’ll find a list of notable players who have elected to skip out on OTAs this offseason and a brief synopsis as to why.

Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield sitting out of the Browns OTAs is to be expected. After all, Cleveland has effectively moved on from their former No. 1 overall pick when they made the blockbuster trade for Deshaun Watson earlier this offseason. As he waits for a team to trade for him, Mayfield is likely also staying away from the Browns’ workouts to not give off the impression that he’d be willing to take a backup role in Cleveland. Given Watson’s uncertain future, it will be fascinating to see what the Browns do with Mayfield in the event that Watson is suspended by the league. 

Deebo Samuel

Deebo Samuel has reportedly requested a trade out of San Francisco and isn’t attending OTAs with his relationship with the organization fractured. The 49ers brass has shown zero interest in trading Samuel, who has expressed displeasure in how he’s used within the offense. Not only is Samuel unhappy with his role as a WR-RB hybrid, but he’s also seeking a new contract as he enters the final year of his rookie deal. Until those issues are ironed out, it seems unlikely that we’ll see Samuel at these voluntary workouts. 

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Kyler Murray

Kyler Murray and his relationship with the Arizona Cardinals has been dicey this offseason. The quarterback has been upfront about wanting a new contract and his agent, Erik Burkhardt, even released a statement back in February that Murray wants to remain in Arizona as the long-term option under center. With the Cardinals picking up Murray’s fifth-year option earlier this offseason, he is under contract through the 2023 season. 

According to a recent report from ESPN, extension talks have been quiet. And with that, Murray will not be present for OTAs

It is worth noting, however, that even as this situation seems to be pretty volatile, GM Steve Keim has said there is “zero chance” the team trades Murray. 

Terry McLaurin

Similar to his 2019 draft classmate Deebo Samuel, Commanders wideout Terry McLaurin is also seeking a new contract as he enters the final year of his deal, albeit without a trade request to boot. That is what is keeping him away from Washington’s OTAs at the moment, but there is room for some optimism that things will get sorted out in short order. The Commanders brass had reportedly met with McLaurin’s agent at the NFL Scouting Combine and the team will clear cap space when safety Landon Collins‘ post-June 1 release is processed. It may be at that juncture that the two sides come to an agreement. Until then, however, it appears like he’ll be absent.

Lamar Jackson

Multiple reports note that Lamar Jackson has not been present at the start of Baltimore’s OTAs this week. Jackson is entering the final year of his rookie deal, so his contract status is certainly playing a part in his absence. 

According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, all parties involved seem resigned to the fact that a new deal is highly unlikely. Outside of a contract offer that guarantees around $250 million, La Canfora doesn’t see Jackson engaging in contract talks, which leads us to a possible franchise tag situation in 2023. In the meantime, Jackson will likely skip out on all the voluntary portions of the offseason program. 

Aaron Donald

While Donald and his camp are working with the Rams on what is billed to be a record-breaking contract, his absence from OTAs is a bit more nuanced. The 31-year-old is widely considered to be among the best defensive players in the NFL and is at a stage of his career where he doesn’t need to take part in these types of workouts. That said, the contract is an important piece to this equation as retirement is reportedly still on the table for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year if this next deal isn’t up to par. 

Jessie Bates

Bengals safety Jessie Bates does not plan to attend any offseason workouts and reportedly has no intention of signing the franchise tag the team placed on him earlier this offseason. Bates was slated to become one of the most sought-after free agents on the market this offseason until Cincinnati hit him with the tag, which was something he had publicly hoped would not be the case. Given Bates’ displeasure with the tag, it’ll be curious to see if he not only decides to skip out on OTAs but mandatory minicamp as well. Both sides have until the July 15 deadline to hammer out an extension.  

Aaron Rodgers

Unlike most other players on this list, Aaron Rodgers isn’t missing OTAs because of a contract dispute. The back-to-back league MVP inked a massive $150.8 million deal with the Packers this offseason that has him under contract through the 2026 season. Rodgers is simply missing these voluntary workouts because he can. 

“Aaron doesn’t need reps at this time of the year,” Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements recently told reporters. “Obviously it’d be nice to have him here, but he’s seen these things 1,000 times and he’ll be ready to go when training camp starts.” 

With Rodgers not taking part in these workouts, Jordan Love is seeing the bulk of the starter’s reps

Tom Brady

Tom Brady’s situation is almost identical to Rodgers’. The seven-time Super Bowl champion doesn’t need these workouts and hasn’t been attending OTAs for years at this point. Brady has long prepared on his own with his personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, and this offseason should be no different. 

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