It was an ugly day for the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday, as recent first round pick Dante Fowler Jr. tore his ACL. The team had kicked off their rookie minicamp, and this marked Fowler's first practice with the Jaguars. Injuries are always going to be part of the game, but it is still tough to see this happen.
There are going to be numerous injuries across the NFL between now and the start of the season. As much as we would like wrap these guys up in bubble wrap for the next four months, practice has to happen. You hope for the best, but things happen.
And that brings me to Alex Boone. He has skipped out on all voluntary aspects of the San Francisco 49ers offseason workout program. His camp has made it clear he would either like a contract extension or a trade, but he is also expected to be on hand for any mandatory aspects of the offseason. That would seem to suggest he will be at the team's mandatory minicamp next month, and then training camp in July and August. I guess we'll find out when these events get here.
Unlike Fowler, Boone has banked some decent money thus far in his career. Fowler and the Jaguars signed a waiver that will prevent the team from screwing him out of his rookie contract, but obviously this is not an ideal way to get moving toward the eventual second contract.
Assuming he stays healthy, Boone should get a sizable pay raise next March in free agency. I don't expect the 49ers to be the team paying, so I expect him to depart when he gets a chance. It is disappointing to see a talent player depart, but when it comes to money, I can't blame him.
And that is also why I can't blame him for staying away from voluntary activities. Rookie minicamp was technically voluntary for Fowler, but with the rookie wage scale in place, no rookie is going to skip that. This is a different situation, but it raises some issues that I think are worth addressing. By skipping voluntary activities, Boone at least provides some opportunity to avoid injury. Sure, he cannot avoid most of the risk between now and free agency, but he has this opportunity for at least a little control. He could take part in everything and never get hurt, or he could skip OTAs, but then suffer a season-ending injury his first day of training camp.
It all comes down to risk assessment. And given that next spring is his biggest chance for a pay day, he has to balance everything. I do think there is value in being at all activities with the changes on offense and adjustments to the offensive line. He skipped the entire offseason and was slow out of the gates when he finally came back. Skipping out could lead to another slow start, and in turn cost him money. However, if he thinks he can do enough, get paid, and avoid voluntary work, more power to him.
People will proclaim that is selfish and he should be a team player, but it is hard for me to get behind that train of thought. It is easy for us as fans to demand all this, but it's his career and his life. He has to do what he thinks is best for himself. It may prove right or wrong over time, but it is on him to figure that out.