In 2020, teams across the National Football League saw a greatly altered preseason, with no preseason games and almost no in-person workouts prior to Training Camp due to the COVID-19 situation. It appears that the player’s union is pushing for the same sort of setup again this year, and will be urging players not to go to in-person workouts.
Specifically, J.C. Tretter, the Cleveland Browns center that currently serves as the president of the NFLPA, has said that the player’s union is pushing for another all-virtual offseason and would urge players to boycott any in-person workouts.
Only about 300 of 2,500 players have workout bonuses they’d lose if they skip OTAs. Under the CBA, the lone mandatory work prior to training camp is a June minicamp, which the union also wants to be virtual this year amidst the ongoing COVID pandemic. Talks with owners continue.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 9, 2021
As you can see from the tweets from Close, Personal Friend of The Daily Norseman Tom Pelissero™, there are only about 300 players that would lose some kind of workout bonus if they skipped Organized Team Activities. The only mandatory workout prior to Training Camp comes in the form of a June mini-camp, and the NFLPA is going to be pushing for that to be virtual as well.
For teams that are going to lean heavily on young players, such as we saw last year with our own Minnesota Vikings, not having the ability to work players out in-person and get a good look at them can be detrimental to their ability to get ready for the season. While last year’s virtual offseason was understandable with the way things were happening, there are now plenty of mitigation measures in place, up to and including vaccines against COVID-19, that would presumably make this a much tougher sell.
Or, to quote Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coach Bruce Arians, “If we lose spring, [young players] are not getting developed. The veterans love that s–t, because that means they don’t get to take their jobs.”
I’m not sure how the NFLPA is going to fare in this battle. But, it’s certainly something to keep an eye on this offseason as we get to the 2021 NFL Draft and the relatively doldrums that follow it leading up to Training Camp.