Leaving the sunny skies and warm temperatues of southern climates for the unpredictablility of Wisconsin weather in the spring could be a difficult hurdle for the Green Bay Packers in getting players to the offseason workout programs.
The Packers battle the problem with cold, hard cash.
Instead of hoping the players will simply show up for the voluntary workouts, the Packers incentivize attendence in the form of workout bonuses, of which the team leads the NFL in potential payout this offseason.
According to Rob Demovsky of ESPN, the Packers could pay out as much as $4.3 million in total workout bonuses. They have 21 total players with workout bonuses and six players in the top-20 of the league in 2014 payout. Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and Sam Shields are all tied for second on the list with a $500,000 payout, while Josh Sitton, Tramon Williams and Morgan Burnett can take home $300,000.
Overall, 16 of the 21 workout bonuses could pay out as much as $100,000.
The Packers begin their offseason workouts on Tuesday. Individual position drills and strength and conditioning work make up the first six weeks of workouts. Organized team activities run from late May through June, and the mandatory minicamp is scheduled for June 17-19.
Per Demovsky, most deals dictate that players participate in 80-90 percent of the offseason program to collect their individual bonuses.
The Packers paid almost $3.7 million in workout bonuses last offseason.
The practice of workout bonuses was first created and emphasized by former Packers executive Andrew Brandt, who once structured deals to help get players to Green Bay for the offseason program. According to a 2008 interview with Brandt at Cheesehead TV, head coach Mike McCarthy was "adament about changing the attitude and attendance in the offseason," which motivated the need for a new bonus structure. The practice is now widely used across the league.
On a sidenote, new Packers linebacker Julius Peppers does not have a workout bonus tied into his contract for 2014.
Zach Kruse is a 25-year-old sports writer who contributes to Cheesehead TV and serves as the Lead Writer for the NFC North at Bleacher Report. You can reach him on Twitter @zachkruse2 or by email at [email protected].
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