|Brees clearly isn't happy that he's been franchise-tagged, and that's the reason he isn't attending workouts. (US Presswire)|
Only two months after Super Bowl XLVI ended in confetti all over the turf of Lucas Oil Stadium, with Eli Manning and the Giants celebrating and with Tom Brady’s wife, Giselle Bundchen, retaliating against obnoxious fans, the 2012 NFL season opened Monday as various teams began offseason activities (mostly relating to strength and conditioning and very little on-the-field activity).
You’ll recall that none of this occurred last year because of the lockout, and Chiefs guard Ryan Lilja, for one, is excited about working today.
“I don’t want to blame not having an offseason program last year because I’ve been doing this long enough that I shouldn’t need one,” Lilja told the Kansas City Star. “So I didn’t know. Sometimes I lost sleep about it. Am I am step slower? Am I weaker? Is it age? It can’t be age. Most guys who are 30 are kind of peaking, at least the linemen.
“But maybe it’s that I need this program. I got so far away from it last year. I was training but I was boxing. I was swimming. I was doing stupid stuff like beating on tires with a sledgehammer. I was so far away from footwork stuff that we need to do and getting into a stance and coming out of a stance. So maybe getting back to football stuff this spring will help me.”
The workouts are voluntary, as much as anything involving practice can be considered non-mandatory in this league, and that means we won’t see a number of star players at team facilities today. As reports begin to trickle in, we’ll keep a running count of which standout performers aren’t present for OTAs and why (hint: it probably has a little something to do with money).
Cliff Avril, Lions defensive end: Detroit franchise-tagged him, meaning the Lions will pay him $10.6 million for 2012. But clearly, Avril isn’t happy about it. Avril is coming off a career season (11 sacks), and he wants a long-term deal. Which probably is in the organization’s best interest, especially since, as the Detroit Free Press notes, Avril is “crucial to everything they do on defense.”
Drew Brees, Saints quarterback: Brees is in New York along with other NFLPA members to meet with the commissioner about the Saints bounty program, and thus, he won’t be in New Orleans with his teammates. Not that he’d be there anyway. He and the Saints -- who have enough problems of their own -- are wrangling over a long-term contract. New Orleans franchised Brees, which didn’t make things any better between the two sides.
Osi Umenyiora, Giants defensive end: Since before the 2011 season, he and the Giants have been battling over a long-term deal. Umenyiora continues to not get what he wants. “You never really know what’s going to happen,” Umenyiora told the Newark Star Ledger last week when asked if he'd report to the workouts. We can assume this, though. Things, it appears, are still contentious between the two sides.
Ray Rice, Ravens running back: He recently told CBSSports.com colleague Will Brinson that he didn’t want Adrian Peterson-type money, but he’s also not happy with being franchise-tagged. Though he declined to attend Baltimore’s workouts, he did find time to post this on his Twitter feed.
To all college athletes getting ready to enter the NFL just remember the business side of the league is rough #fact— Ray Rice (@RayRice27) April 16, 2012
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