Trae Waynes got life-changing money from the Bengals this offseason. Except, he hasn’t actually gotten any of it.
The free agent cornerback hasn’t received his $15 million signing bonus from the three-year, $42 million deal he agreed to in March since he still hasn’t completed his official physical with the team doctors (because of the COVID-19 pandemic). And while he’s not complaining about it, it has changed things for him this offseason.
Waynes’ agent Brian Murphy told Albert Breer of SI.com that Waynes is being particularly careful with his workouts, for fear of a freak injury impacting him economically.
“I’ve advised Trae not to do any football drills, not to get out there on the field, certainly don’t do any live drills against other people. And my hope is that he’s following my advice,” Murphy said. “He signed a nice offseason contract to go to the Bengals, be the man in their secondary, make a major contribution, and so under ordinary circumstances, he’d be killing himself to get in the best shape possible. He did do all the Zoom calls. Obviously, there’s no physical activity there, and he’d really want to be in the best shape of life, so he can play the best football of his life. But because of the Bengals’ decision, he can’t do that.
“So yeah, he’s gotta be creative, he’s gotta find different ways to be at peak physical performance. But assuming he’s not doing the one-on-one drills, assuming he’s not battling other players, he’s just not gonna be where he otherwise would be in a normal year.”
That’s going to be true for practically every player this offseason, but the financial limbo remains a problem.
The Bengals aren’t the only team not allowing third-party physicals, which some teams have conceded to to finish deals. But now Waynes is waiting in Cincinnati, after moving his family this offseason.
“We regret the challenges that have arisen this year with processing contracts due to coronavirus,” Bengals vice president Troy Blackburn said. “The Bengals are very excited about adding Trae to the roster and are confident that he will be a good player here, but unfortunately issues relating to coronavirus have made contract execution matters harder than anyone wishes. Hopefully agreements can be reached soon between the NFL and the NFLPA that allow the season to get underway, at which point these issues go away.”
Until then, players such as Waynes are left to work out as carefully as they can, and hope nothing unfortunate happens which could complicate their planned signings.