The list of NFL teams announcing that players that will be skipping offseason workouts keeps growing by the day.
As of Monday morning, 16 teams have announced plans to skip normal voluntary workouts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles are the most recent teams to join the cause along with the Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I think that what you’re seeing now is for the first time, players exercising their voice, or one of the first-time people exercising their voice to say no,” NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith told ESPN. “And frankly it’s probably one of the few times that coaches have ever heard players say no. And for some players, it’s probably the first time they’ve said no to their coach. But this is a negotiated, bargained for, voluntary offseason workout.”
The Tennessee Titans have not announced a public stance on the issue yet. But how close are they to following suit with the other 16 teams? In a recent interview with Titans beat writer Paul Kuharsky, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel admitted that he had no idea either way as to what the Titans’ players planned to do.
He also disclosed that he had been vaccinated and many of the team’s coaches and staff that have interactions with players have been as well.
All of the offseason programs last year were done virtually, training camp was pushed back, and the preseason was cut due to COVID. The NFL sent a memo a week ago to all 32 teams stating the first four weeks of the offseason workouts (through May 14) will be held virtually before transitioning to in-person workouts on May 17.
While some players have workout bonuses tied to showing up to offseason workouts and organized team activities (OTAs), the Players’ Association is campaigning for players to sit out workouts again this year, stating it’s in the player’s best interest to not only minizine their risk of COVID exposure but to cut down on the potential risk of injuries as well.
“This is a negotiated, bargained for, voluntary offseason workout where if someone came to you or me and said, ‘I have a way of cutting concussions by 30 percent and I know a way to decrease missed time to injuries by 23 percent,’ I would think that almost everyone would wholeheartedly embrace that whether it was voluntary or not,” Smith added.
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