The Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have all agreed not to participate in in-person workouts this offseason, continuing the tensions between the NFL players and the league this offseason.
The move comes as the NFL Players Association has been pushing back on the league’s plans to start the offseason program on April 19 because of a lack of a formalized agreement on what the in-person component of the offseason will look like and because of the safety precautions the league has in place, The Athletic reports.
The Athletic reports the Broncos statement comes after a call on Monday evening.
“The players’ statement leaves room for players who have bonuses tied to offseason workout attendance to do so,” The Athletic reports. “Four Denver players have bonuses, including outside linebacker Von Miller and quarterback Drew Lock.”
Within an hour of the Denver players’ statement, the Seattle Seahawks players released a four-part statement of their own.
“For the protection of everyone’s safety, we the Seattle Seahawks are deciding to exercise our CBA right to not participate in voluntary in-person workouts,” the team said. “While many states in this county are still seeing rising COVID-19 numbers, we believe that a virtual offseason is best for everyone’s protection. Our hope is that we will see a positive shift in the COVID-19 data that will allow for a safe return for players when mandatory workouts are set to begin.”
The defending Super Bowl champion, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, released a statement of their own on Tuesday evening.
“We had a fully virtual offseason last year and we held each other accountable to do the work it took to win and we plan to do that again,” the statement reads.
NFLPA President and Cleveland Browns center J.C. Tretter has been encouraging players not to return until they feel it is safe to do so.
“The NFL doesn’t get to decide when the pandemic is over, or when we get to stop caring about COVID,” Tretter said last month, per The Athletic. “Our guys can still get [COVID-19]. They don’t want to make themselves vulnerable to that during unnecessary practices in the spring time.”
DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFLPA, said that daily cases of COVID are higher now than last March when the offseason went virtual.
“From the players’ perspective the goal remains the same — how do we conduct NFL football in the safest possible way?” he said.
OutKick previously reported that the league told its clubs to prepare to conduct meetings virtually — “at least during the early phase of the program” — when offseason programs begin April 19, but they do not expect teams to conduct the same virtual workout program as last offseason.
Check back with OutKick for updates on this developing story.