The Seahawks and the other 31 NFL teams know the dates of the major events of their offseason programs. Now to see who shows up and for what as the NFL Players Association is advising its members not to take part in on-field drills that are voluntary.
First up for the Seahawks is rookie minicamp, which the NFL announced Thursday is set for May 14-16.
The rookie minicamp is when teams traditionally get their first on-field look at drafted players, undrafted rookie free agents and others who take part on a tryout basis. The NFL has told teams they can have no more than five tryout players as a COVID-19 protocol.
The Seahawks were set to have a smaller-than-usual contingent for the camp with just three draft picks, 12 known (so far) undrafted free agents and another rookie player added through the league’s international pathway program.
When the Seahawks last held a rookie minicamp in 2019, they had 68 players on the roster for the weekend with 11 draft picks and 12 signed UDFAs
The tryout players not only allow teams to look at a number of players they may be interested in signing — Benson Mayowa was signed in 2013 after attending rookie minicamp on a tryout basis — but fill out the rosters to help run drills. Teams, for instance, usually bring in multiple quarterbacks on a tryout basis to make sure they have enough who can throw passes all weekend.
The NFLPA has told rookies that the minicamp is officially voluntary and is pushing for players not to attend for COVID-19-related safety reasons.
The NFL also announced the Seahawks dates for OTAs, or Organized Team Activities, when 11-on-11 noncontact workouts are allowed. Seattle’s dates are: May 24, 26-27 and June 1, 3-4 and 7-10.
OTAs are also voluntary, and the NFLPA is advising players not to attend for COVID-19-related safety reasons.
The Seahawks are among 21 teams who have released statements through the NFLPA saying they plan to sit out the voluntary on-field portion of OTAs. Players have been participating in virtual meetings and workouts and some have been in the building for rehab and other matters.
In an interview Thursday with Seattle Times columnist Larry Stone to promote his partnership with Microban 24, a manufacturer of cleaning products which is bestowing “Most Valuable Protector” awards to frontline cleaning and sanitization workers in various communities, receiver Tyler Lockett — who is the Seahawks’ representative to the NFLPA — said the team is still standing by the statement that it will boycott voluntary, on-field workouts.
“At the end of the day, we wrote out the statement, so that’s what we’re standing by,” Lockett said. “It’s a team collective thing, not an individual thing.”
Some of those 21 teams have released statements saying “many’’ players will not attend but not necessarily all players.
Many teams that did not issue statements are those who have a higher number of players with bonuses tied to taking part in voluntary workouts.
The Seahawks don’t typically include such bonuses in contracts. The only player listed as having such a bonus is safety Quandre Diggs at $100,000. That was part of a contract he signed with Detroit in 2018 before being traded in 2019. Diggs has taken to Twitter to indicate he is OK with giving up the money.
The Seahawks’ mandatory minicamp is set for June 15-17. Players can be fined for not attending, and the statements of teams such as the Seahawks indicate they plan to show up for that.
The league and the NFLPA are likely to continue discussing the parameters of the offseason program, however.
In apparent anticipation of the beginning of offseason drills, the league told teams on Wednesday that they should offer COVID-19 vaccines to all rookies, and that they should “highlight to all players that vaccinations may help players avoid missed practices and games, and therefore may have a competitive impact for the club,’’ according to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network.
The league also informed teams that the league will transition back to regular-season COVID-19 protocols beginning May 17. Among those protocols, as revealed by NFL Network media, are a maximum of 15 players in the weight room at one time, no more than five tryouts or visits from players each week, no club-organized social gatherings and no in-person player media interviews.