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NFLPA president wants to make sure Tom Coughlin knows what 'voluntary' means

Tom Coughlin, the vice president of football operations with the Jacksonville Jaguars, doesn’t appear to fully understand what the word “voluntary” means. NFL Players Association president Eric Winston might just send him a dictionary so he’ll never be confused again.

Coughlin expressed disappointment on Thursday that not all his players had shown up to voluntary offseason workouts, saying “Quite frankly, all our players should be here.”

That didn’t sit right with Winston, because as the name of the workouts suggests, they are completely voluntary and players are not obligated or required to attend regardless of what team executives might say. Winston publicly responded to Coughlin’s fundamental misunderstanding of the word “voluntary” (as well as the NFL-NFLPA collective bargaining agreement) in a statement to ProFootballTalk.

“Our CBA definition of voluntary is the same as the actual definition of voluntary and prohibits anyone from threatening players to participate in voluntary workouts. This is precisely the reason players negotiated strict work rules and bright lines when it comes to offseason activities. We know, from experience, that not all coaches and executives will adhere to them and we always pursue any violations to protect our rules.”

NFL Players Association President Eric Winston speaks during a news conference at the media center for the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

From that statement, it seems like the NFLPA might be pursuing Coughlin’s CBA violation, though that wasn’t spelled out.

Just two Jaguars players haven’t participated in voluntary workouts: cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Telvin Smith. Jaguars coach Doug Marrone had a more diplomatic response to their absence, saying that he tries not “to concern myself with things that are out of my control.”

Is Marrone disappointed that Ramsey and Smith aren’t there? Probably. But since the workouts are voluntary, Marrone’s feelings about that are his own responsibility, not anyone else’s.

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