On Tuesday morning, the NFLPA issued a statement on behalf of the Denver Broncos indicating that players intend to forgo organized voluntary workouts for the upcoming season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Shortly thereafter, the Seattle Seahawks followed suit. The official statement can be read below.
A statement on behalf of the Seattle Seahawks players: pic.twitter.com/4Bwl4KkEOI— NFLPA (@NFLPA) April 13, 2021
This is another new development in the ongoing negotiations between the league and the Player’s Association, as the NFLPA continues to push for an entirely virtual offseason. Advocates point out that this approach worked well in 2020 and did not negatively impact the game or quality of play during the season. Furthermore, NFLPA president J.C. Tretter said on Friday the player’s association will push for boycotts if teams continue to mandate in-person activities this spring.
According to Tom Pelissero, only a small number of players across the league have workout bonuses that are tied to attending Organized Team Activities (OTAs).
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
Knowing this, it seems like the players hold most of the leverage with regard to OTAs and any other voluntary workouts, and the likelihood that they will change their position on attendance seems unlikely. Many veteran players elect not to attend every year, so how hard the league will want to fight on this particular issue remains to be seen. Negotiations will continue to ramp up, as mandatory minicamps are only a couple months away at this point.