Joel Bitonio wonders if JC Tretter is blackballed for his stance on player safety

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Colin Kaepernick might have company.

Free agent center JC Tretter, who also happens to be the president of the NFL Players Association, remains available through mid-August. Former Browns teammate Joel Bitonio suggests Tretter’s role as a player safety advocate could contribute to his ongoing unemployment.

“When you have a guy who’s top five, top 10 in league center and he’s not on a roster, you know, and he’s the president of the NFLPA and maybe some owners don’t appreciate what he brings to the table on certain topics when he’s trying to protect player safety and things of that nature, seems a bit suspicious to mesaid Bitonio, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealership. “But, again, I don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors. I don’t know what his conversations have been with teams and everything, but from an outside perspective, players who are close to the top of their game are generally supported. Teams want to win in this league. So it’s an interesting subject, that’s for sure.

Teams want to win in this league. That was the excuse the commissioner repeatedly gave for teams not signing Kaepernick. Teams want to win, so they will never fail to pursue a player who can help them win. (Unless they’re tanking, of course.)

The Browns cut Tretter earlier this year, saving more than $8.235 million in cap space. The Browns also lost center Nick Harris for the season on Friday night. The Bucs previously lost center Ryan Jensen, possibly for the year. There have been no serious suggestions that either team will sign Tretter.

None of that stopped Tretter from doing his job for NFL players. On Saturday, Tretter spoke about the condition of the playing surface at Soldier Field.

A fourth-round pick in 2013, Tretter spent four years with the Packers and five with the Browns. He ranked 89th on Pro Football Focus’ list of the 101 best players of 2021.

Would it be crazy to think that the owners are turning away from Tretter because he has become the agitator of the oligarchs? No. This is another reason why top (and highly paid) quarterbacks should be more involved in union leadership. They’re much less likely to get blackballed, and they’re much more likely to take command of the base if/when a line has to be drawn in the sand – even if it means a work stoppage.

For now, it makes sense to pay attention to what’s going on with Tretter. If the goal is to keep him out of the league because he helps run the syndicate, ignoring him makes it easier for the owners to get away with it.

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