Draft luncheon: “No need to speak further…”

JACKSONVILLE – Tom Coughlin had nothing to add.

That was the Jaguars’ executive vice president of football operations’ stance Monday when asked about comments he made last week regarding participation in the team’s offseason program.

“There’s really no need to speak any further on that one,” Coughlin said Monday during the team’s 2019 pre-draft media luncheon at TIAA Bank Field.

Coughlin during last Thursday’s 2019 State of the Franchise event had discussed the offseason program, saying: “Quite frankly, all our players should be here. … It’s not about rights and privileges. It’s about obligations and responsibility. And the question is, ‘Can we count on you?”

The Jaguar’ 2019 offseason program began April 15. Head Coach Doug Marrone said cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Telvin Smith had opted not to attend the early part of the program.

Attendance in most of the offseason program is voluntary under the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement between NFL Owners and the NFL Players Association. The only mandatory work is a three-day mid-June minicamp.

NFLPA President Eric Winston shortly after Coughlin’s speech Thursday issued a statement, saying in part: “Our CBA definition of voluntary is the same as the actual definition of voluntary and prohibits anyone from threatening players to participate in voluntary workout.”

Ramsey via Twitter wrote that the Jaguars “Know the exact reasons I am not [attending offseason workouts. My teammates know it's ALL love and know I'll be ready when it's time!"

Coughlin on Monday was asked if he worried about straining his relationship with Ramsey.

“That was an open statement about my beliefs about what the offseason program is all about,” Coughlin said. “That’s enough.”

Marrone also discussed the situation Monday, saying that he spoke to Ramsey Friday. He said early last week that he had reached out to Smith and Ramsey without response.

Marrone said he discovered later in the week why he hadn’t reached Ramsey.

“I had the wrong number and [Jaguars Director of Player Development] Marcus [Pollard] had the wrong number,” Marrone said with a laugh. “He’s been talking to [Cornerbacks] Coach [Tim] Walton. We [he and Ramsey] talked Friday and had a great talk. He’s training with his brother. He’s in Nashville. He’s spending time with his family. He said he’s going to come back in the best shape he’s ever been in and he’s all fired up.

“That was pretty much the conversation. It was a good conversation.”

Marrone said he and Ramsey had a “little laugh” about Marrone having the wrong number.

“Now, I have the right number,” Marrone said. “He always had my number, so it’s good.”

Marrone said he was unconcerned that he hadn’t talked to Smith.

“They don’t have to, so no,” Marrone said. “It’s a voluntary period. I try to keep reminding myself of that. We appreciate the players who are here. That’s what you must do. If you treat them like they should be here, I think that gets tough. The NFLPA collectively bargained that it’s a voluntary period.

“Those players have an option. The ones that are here, we appreciate and we’re working with them.”

Marrone was asked if it was a common courtesy to respond.

“I’ve had players before who hadn’t responded,” Marrone said, adding that he and Smith were fine at the end of the season. “Everything was good.”

Marrone was asked if he was surprised, he hadn’t talked with Smith.

“No,” he said. “He probably was busy.”

Coughlin on Monday also addressed running back Leonard Fournette. Coughlin in mid-March said he had “full confidence” in Fournette moving forward – this after a difficult 2018 sophomore season in which Fournette missed seven games with injuries and one while serving an NFL suspension for his participation in an on-field fight in Buffalo.

Fournette recently was arrested for driving with a suspended license, with Monday marking the first time Coughlin had spoken to local reporters since the arrest.

“Leonard is here,” Coughlin said. “He is working hard. He has done a lot to put himself in the type of condition that he wants to be in at this point in the offseason. I just asked him to go to work.”

Images from the annual Jaguars draft media luncheon.

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