Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


NFL restructures offseason programs amid COVID concerns from players

Apr 14, 2021 at 11:20 AM--


The NFL's offseason program was scheduled to begin on Monday. Players from several teams came together and opted out of the voluntary portions of Phase 1, deciding to forgo in-person workouts due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. San Francisco 49ers players had not yet made a similar statement.

The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) has been pushing for an alteration to the offseason schedule, hoping for no in-person activities until training camp in July, as was the case last offseason. However, the NFL has been pushing for in-person activities to begin after just two weeks of virtual sessions.

On Wednesday, the league announced a restructure to the offseason programs. Now, there will be no on-field work until May 17. That will be restricted to no-contact drills, though. Everything until then, aside from voluntary weight-room work, will be conducted virtually.

Regular on-field work can begin on May 24. That will include 10 organized team activity days and end with a mandatory minicamp.


"As you know, other than minicamps, all offseason workouts are completely voluntary despite some of the language used by the clubs in recent days," NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and president JC Tretter wrote in a letter to players this week. "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."

It is unknown if the players will agree to this restructured offseason schedule.

This week, the NFL issued a memo encouraging players and NFL team personnel to get vaccinated. While the league didn't make it mandatory, any personnel who opt not to do so without medical or religious reasons will have restricted access to their respective team facilities and cannot directly interact with players.


While the league conducted last year's NFL Draft virtually, this year's rookie selection event will be held in person in Cleveland starting on April 29. Last month, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated that he expects fans to pack NFL stadiums during the 2021 season once again.

"All of us in the NFL want to see every one of our fans back," Goodell said via ESPN. "Football is simply not the same without fans, and we expect to have full stadiums in the upcoming season."



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