This is a unique time of year in the NFL. While some teams are looking towards the postseason, others shift their focus much further down the road. That’s what the Jacksonville Jaguars did Wednesday when they fired Tom Coughlin.
The Jaguars looked like they were on the verge of becoming a powerhouse in 2017, only to fall back down the rabbit hole of obscurity last year. Maybe this season could have been different if Nick Foles hadn’t gotten injured in Week One, but we’ll never know.
But their lack of success on the field is not what did Tom Coughlin in. From what Jaguars owner Shad Khan said in his statement , it may have started that way. But it wasn’t losing that made Khan get rid of Coughlin now.
It was the NFLPA.
On Monday, the news broke that the Jaguars had fined at least one player (later confirmed to be Dante Fowler ) 25 times for more than $700,000 because he missed offseason treatment sessions at the team facility.
Here’s the problem: The collective bargaining agreement prevents teams from making anything in the offseason mandatory (with limited exceptions). Teams certainly can’t make treatment sessions at the team facility mandatory.
Following the ruling against the Jaguars, the NFLPA sent members a letter explaining the ruling – as well as how the Jaguars tried to circumvent the CBA. The letter went on to say that the Jaguars have been the subject of 25% of the grievances filed by players over the last two years.
Then came the part that forced Khan to fire Coughlin:
You as players may want to consider this when you have a chance to select your next club.
When the players union advises members against signing with your team, there is only one thing that a team owner can do. Khan had to eliminate the driving force behind the grievances; in other words, he had to fire Tom Coughlin.
Otherwise, no matter how much money Khan threw at free agents (and he always throws a lot), the Jaguars were going to struggle to fill their roster – much less add top-tier talent. They already lost one guy because of management (Jalen Ramsey). They couldn’t afford to alienate this year’s free-agent class before free agency even starts.
Some players may have been willing to overlook the warning – for the right price. But most would not. With so many other teams available, why would they?