The tension between Deebo Samuel and the 49ers appears to have cooled a bit, but there are still a lot of things to play out, including training camp.
On the positive side of things, the relationship between the San Francisco 49ers and All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel appears to have improved since the high-profile standoff that existed in the weeks leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Niners smartly elected not to trade him during the draft, and they still hold his contractual rights through the upcoming season with the potential of applying the franchise tag on him in 2023.
Simply put, San Francisco has a lot of leverage here.
However, the 49ers would prefer not to have a disgruntled top weapon on the field this season, and he could still make any attempt to force his way off the roster.
A next step could be for him to pass on attending the mandatory portion of the team’s offseason workouts, namely mandatory minicamp and training camp, both of which are scheduled later this summer. Samuel already skipped the initial voluntary workouts in April, which wasn’t a shock, but things get a little trickier with regard to those two scheduled events.
Will Deebo Samuel get fined if he doesn’t attend 49ers training camp?
Short answer? Yes.
In previous years, players holding out for a new contract would frequently skip offseason workouts, including training camp. However, under the current collective bargaining agreement, there are stiff penalties in place for anyone who chooses to follow this path.
CBS Sports’ Jon Breech broke down the fines associated with missing mandatory minicamp, and they can get pretty stiff:
"Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, a player can be fined up to $14,775 for skipping the first day of minicamp. If a player decides he also wants to skip the second day of camp, he can be hit with a second fine of $29,550. If that same player decides to skip the third day of minicamp, he can be fined $44,325, and keep in mind, those fines are all separate, which means a player who skips all three days could potentially be fined $88,650."
Now, that might be a value Samuel is willing to absorb, especially if he’s aware whatever contract is coming his way will make the $88,650 potential total relative “pocket change” in contrast to what he’s soon to receive.
However, should Samuel elect not to attend training camp, those fines get exceptionally larger, as CBS Sports’ Joel Corry, a former agent himself, described:
"Teams are required to fine players who aren’t on rookie contracts $50,000 per day with training camp absences. Players on rookie contracts, like Adams, are subject to a $40,000 daily fine.There’s an additional penalty of one week’s base salary (1/18th of salary) for each preseason game missed with players signing contracts as unrestricted free agents or first-round picks playing under their fifth-year option."
Corry also pointed out these fines aren’t optional, so this wouldn’t be the case where the Niners could execute a good-faith measure and not fine their star receiver.
And since Samuel is still on his rookie contract, signed after he was drafted in 2019, the daily $40,000 fine would apply.
Considering most training-camp practices last nearly two weeks, it’s not hard to see why those fines could add up quickly.
Could Deebo Samuel attend 49ers training camp but not practice?
There’s another option available to Samuel, and it’s not unlike what Pittsburgh Steelers EDGE T.J. Watt did a year ago in light of his own extension talks.
Instead of holding out, Watt engaged in something like a “hold-in.”
In this regard, Samuel would physically be at San Francisco’s practice facility, but he wouldn’t elect to partake in any onfield practices where he could potentially suffer some sort of injury. It’s still far from ideal for the 49ers, though, as they’d want him to get ramped up to gameday speed and develop the necessary chemistry with his offensive teammates.
But, at least from the financial standpoint, Samuel could avoid those hefty fines.
Again, all this could eventually go away if the Niners come to a new contractual agreement with Samuel, and these things can develop awfully quickly, too, meaning the whole point could be made a moot one if some new deal is reached.
Until then, Samuel faces some tough choices.