NFL Players Disgruntled: The NFL recently released the plan for the 2021 offseason. A year ago the NFL offseason was completely virtual due to Covid-19. This year however the NFL is planning on having the offseason for all 32 teams in person similar to how it was before the pandemic.
April 19 will officially kick off the offseason programs for players operating a four-week first phase. The teams will be holding two-hour meetings and players will be able to work out in the weight room, but players will not be able to practice on the field with coaches.
The second phase beginning on May 17 will allow players to begin training on the field with coaches, but contact is not prohibited.
Following the completion of this on May 21 teams will then have Organized Team Activities lasting four to 10 days and this will be mandatory for all players.
Immediately following this announcement players took to social media and expressed their displeasure with the NFL’s decision to host voluntary offseason workouts. Players have since told other players and coaches that they will not be showing up for these offseason programs.
The league has the power when making this decision as this is something that was not agreed upon by the NFL Players Association in the collective bargaining agreement. NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith however feels that it would be wise for players to skip these voluntary workouts even if coaches want them to attend.
“What a lot of players have said that they’ve heard from their coaches is that they need to show up,” Smith said. It is important to reiterate that these workouts are voluntary until the end of May.
“We’ve known for years that this is a voluntary workout where a lot of coaches put their finger on the scale, and while they call it voluntary, they expect players to show up. I think that what you’re seeing now is for the first time, players exercising their voice, or one of the first time people exercising their voice to say no.
And frankly, it’s probably one of the few times that coaches have ever heard players say no. And for some players, it’s probably the first time they’ve said no to their coach. But this is a negotiated, bargained for, voluntary offseason workout,” Smith said.
With players signing with new teams and new coaches coaching teams and different position groups it would be wise for the players and coaches to get on the same page. Offseason programs for veterans are without a doubt not exactly as important as they are for newer players such as rookies and players fighting for roster spots.
Even though some of these programs are voluntary it would be wise for players on the bubble of making the roster or fighting for playing time to participate. Ultimately Covid-19 will be a major factor in determining how these offseason programs play out.
The NFL however is planning on trying to provide NFL players and their families with opportunities to get vaccinated. The NFL did a good job last season battling the pandemic and with access to the vaccine increasing quickly the NFL should be able to once again handle the season.