NFL Notes: 2021 Season, Hue Jackson, Justin Fields

2021 Season

  • Per NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero, the NFL informed teams that Phase I of OTAs can begin for everyone on April 19. 
  • Pelissero adds players will continue to be allowed to work out at the team facility in small groups. There’s no word yet on a resolution between the NFL and NFLPA on how much of OTAs will be virtual but there’s some hope for in-person practices even if meetings stay virtual. 
  • Pelissero notes this means teams with new head coaches won’t have a head start like they usually do. He also adds if the two sides don’t reach an agreement, normal OTAs rules would apply, including the need for in-person attendance for players to collect workout bonuses. 
  • Pelissero confirms the expansion to a 17-game regular season triggered a “media kicker” in the CBA that increases the NFL players’ collective share of revenues to above 48 percent starting in 2022. 
  • Pelissero also points out that according to the new CBA agreed to last summer, Article 31 (a) states, “The League and/or Clubs shall not increase the number of regular season games per Club to eighteen (18) or more games.” The current CBA runs through March of 2031. 
  • NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a press conference that the league anticipates business as usual more or less in 2021: “We want to see every one of our fans back. We expect to have full stadiums in the coming season.” (Adam Schefter)

Justin Fields

  • According to Albert Breer of SI, there will be a wide variety of important names at the pro day for Ohio State QB Justin Fields as he does a workout designed by former NFL QB John Beck, who also designed the BYU QB Zach Wilson’s session last week.
  • Some of the personnel who will attend Fields’ pro day include Jets GM Joe Douglas, assistant GM Rex Hogan, OC Mike LaFleur, 49ers assistant GM Adam Peters, college scouting director Ethan Waugh, QB coach Rich Scangarello, Falcons GM Terry Fontenot, HC Arthur Smith, OC Dave Ragone, Eagles QB coach Brian Johnson, Panthers GM Scott Fitterer, HC Matt Rhule, and director of player personnel Pat Stewart, Broncos GM George Paton, and Patriots executive Eliot Wolf.
  • 49ers HC Kyle Shanahan was not in attendance but Fields is expected to hold a second pro day where he will be able to attend, which he is fine with doing: “He’s a great offensive-minded coach and arguably one of the best coaches in the league. It’s just an honor and a blessing to be in that position to be looked at by them. So, I’m just grateful.” (Nick Wagoner)

Hue Jackson

Former Browns’ HC Hue Jackson is going public with his feelings during his time with the franchise, saying he was deliberately misled by owner Jimmy Haslam.

“There’s no doubt I was lied to by ownership and leadership of the team,’’ Jackson said, via Mary Kay Cabot of “They were going to be football plus analytics, but it was football versus analytics. They were going to take two years and they were going to find a way to use us as an experiment to make sure that they got the data that they needed for it to get better — at the expense of whoever — and that’s not right. That’s not the way it should be.”

Jackson plans to publish a book about his experience with the team and believes he has been inaccurately portrayed in the media.

“I think I became the fall guy because that was the narrative,” said Jackson. “The truth needs to come out for other minority coaches. They need to know the pitfalls out there. My story has affected some of their futures…I want to make sure everybody knows and understands exactly what went on in Cleveland. The truth needs to come out. I am tired of being the brunt of jokes and memes and things that people say when they don’t know.”

According to Jackson, the team did not want to make his contract extension public at a time when his coaching record was 1-23.

“I got a contract extension at 1-23, midway through the season,’’ Jackson said. “I wanted to go public with it, but the Browns didn’t. I think we can all understand and think why it was not made public. Because it would’ve really set the tempo for what exactly was going on there.”

Jackson no longer wants to be blamed for failures that he says fall on the shoulders of the team’s ownership.

“People need to go back and look at those drafts and see where those players are today,” Jackson said. “That should tell you all you need to know. They’re not on this team. They haven’t been. Some of them aren’t even in the league, but we were expected to win. You can’t win that way. I’ll take responsibility for my role in it, but why isn’t everybody else taking their responsibility for it? There’s people that are leading the organization today in Cleveland that was just as big a part of that as I was. And those guys are getting paid for doing that. So obviously they were paid for losing. Is that what we’re saying? I’m vilified about losing. This is a joke to me.”

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