Players on the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks issued statements, which were released by the NFL Players Association, announcing that they will not participate in voluntary workouts this offseason.
There’s a good chance other teams will likely follow as well.
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On Tuesday, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and president JC Tretter sent a memo to all players saying that they’ve had discussions with the league on negotiations over a virtual offseason.
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“As we have shared with your Executive Committee and Board, it is clear that neither side wants to move off their respective position,” the memo stated via NFL Network. “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.”
The NFLPA said the same offseason rules as last year should be implemented this year’s offseason because they give players the best chance at completing the full 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,” the memo continued. “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.”
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The NFL sent a memo to teams earlier and it stated that any team employee who refuses to take a COVID-19 vaccination without “bona fide medical or religious ground” will be barred from Tier 1 or Tier 2 status, and thus have restricted access within the team facility and not work directly with players, the NFL Network reported citing sources.
The league also said that teams must report the number of employees who are vaccinated weekly.
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Offseason programs are expected to begin on Monday.
The NFL Network reported that Tretter told players on a call last week the NFL’s latest proposal was to have the first two weeks be virtual, then start in person. On the other hand, the union wants everything prior to training camp to be virtual, including mandatory minicamp.