The Broncos, Buccaneers, Lions and Seahawks are the first few teams to announce they will not participate in voluntary offseason workouts held in-person, but will other teams follow? The answer is probably yes. The NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and president JC Tretter sent the memo Tuesday, which stated the union’s stance on the matter.
“We have been in regular contact with the NFL on negotiations over a virtual offseason,” the memo reads, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Media. “As we have shared with your Executive Committee and Board, it is clear that neither side wants to move off their respective position. As we have made clear throughout bargaining: The COVID status in the country is as perilous as it was at this point last year; a number of players recently tested positive at team facilities. COVID weekly positive rates are as high, if not higher than, at this point last offseason; and NFL players who contracted COVID last season can become infected again.
“We believe that having the same offseason rules as last year is in the best interest of . . . the players and gives us the best chance of completing a full NFL season in 2021.
“As you know, other than minicamps, all offseason workouts are completely voluntary despite some of the language used by the clubs in recent days. And, while the CBA allows the teams to host mandatory minicamps, we believe the league should make them virtual just like last season.
“It is the recommendation of the NFLPA based on our medical experts’ advice that if the voluntary offseason program is in person, players should not attend. Therefore, as teams host calls to discuss these issues we urge that all players consider their own health and safety, make a personal decision about attending voluntary workouts and take into consideration the unanimous recommendation of the NFLPA COVID committee that we have an entirely virtual offseason.
“Please let your Player Director know what the consensus is of your teammates regarding their individual decision about the voluntary offseason period. We will let you know what we hear regarding minicamps and training camp structure and schedule.”
If I am interpreting workout bonuses correctly, the cap that would have been spent on those in-person attendance-based incentives will roll over to 2022. The Panthers are the only team in the Falcons division with considerable money in workout bonuses compared to the rest of the league at $1.9 million. While the Falcons have only one player with a workout bonus — tight end Lee Smith. But his bonus was part of a contract the team inherited when they acquired him in a trade from the Bills, which is only an annual workout bonus of $100,000. According to Pelissero, Tretter informed players that the NFL’s last proposal is for the first two weeks to be virtual before starting in-person work, which is scheduled to begin Monday.
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