Three Doctors Told Offensive Guard Kelechi Osemele He Needed Shoulder Surgery, The Jets Disagreed, and Now He’s a Free Agent

New York Post

The 2019 season has left the New York Jets is a state of flux, so to speak. Quarterback Sam Darnold missed multiple weeks with mono, and only returned when he was confident he “wasn’t going to die.” Then, ESPN aired footage of the quarterback claiming he was seeing ghosts on the sideline during Monday night’s shellacking at the hands of the Patriots. Then, it was reported that the team was refusing to allow guard Kelechi Osemele to have a shoulder procedure that has been recommended by three doctors. On Saturday, the team released Osemele after he decided to have surgery.

           According to nydailynews.com, reports surfaced last week that multiple doctors have suggested Osemele undergo surgery to mend a torn labrum. Osemele naturally prefers to fix the issue, while the team believes the issue can be resolved when the season is over, and likely after they release Osemele to the free agent market. Regardless, Osemele has opted to go forward with the surgery against the Jets’ desires, and had the surgery to repair his labrum on Friday.

           Naturally, the labrum tear has prevented Osemele from practicing, and as a result, the Jets have fined Osemele for conduct detrimental to the team on a regular basis (the value equal to what Osemele would have received in a game check), and would have likely continued to hand out the fines for however long Osemele was under contract. The specifics of the New York Jets personal conduct policy aren’t known, but it’s possible that the Jets’ policy could be similar to the contract now free agent wide out Antonio Brown signed with the Patriots in September.

“If at any time prior to the end of the 2019 League Year, [Brown] : … takes any action that materially undermines the publics respect for, or is materially critical of, the Club, Players teammates or the Club’s ownership, coaches, management, operations, or policies then, upon election of the Club, the guarantees set forth in this section 27 will be null and void, whether or not any such guarantee otherwise had been earned in accordance thereof.”

Antonio Brown’s Patriots Contract, Yahoosports.com

           If Osemele’s contract is anything similar, it’s not far-fetched to assume that his inability to practice because of a “phantom injury,” in the eyes of his team, was detrimental. Osemele will likely appeal with the league, but the results of that remain to be seen. There is also speculation that the fining of Osemele was just a step in the process the Jets are taking to release the lineman without having to pay his termination pay, and that probably wound up being true. Osemele’s agent, Andrew Kessler has made his party’s stance on the matter clear, as according to espn.com, they believe “the Jets owe Osemele the balance of his contract under both the standard-injury guarantee provision of the player contract and under termination pay” Traditionally, players on a roster who are released after the first day of the season may earn termination pay for their release, so Osemele may be entitled to some compensation after his release. Fining Osemele reportedly relieves the Jets from that responsibility, but how the dispute will ultimately end remains to be seen. The Jets officially released the injured lineman on Saturday, but assuming there’s more to come seems like a good bet.

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