A day after Seahawks players said in a statement they would not take part in in-person workouts during the NFL’s voluntary offseason program due to concerns over COVID-19, the league announced a structure to the program.
Specifically, the league announced that the first of the program’s three phases, Phase One, will start Monday and last until May 14 and will consist of virtual meetings and no on-field work. Players can attend conditioning workouts held at team facilities.
Phase Two will begin May 17 and will include meetings and on-field drills. Phase Three, which can include the traditional voluntary full-team on-field practices known as Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and then a mandatory three-day minicamp, will last from May 17-June 18.
The Seahawks, Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay all announced through the NFL Players Association Tuesday that they would not take part in any in-person workouts during the voluntary portion of the program, and that they hope all of the offseason program can be done virtually, as it was in 2020. The New England Patriots and Detroit Lions issued similar statements on Wednesday. The NFLPA said it is recommending to all players not to attend in-person workouts.
“For the protection of everyone’s safety, we the Seattle Seahawks are deciding to exercise our CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) right to not participate in voluntary in-person workouts,’’ the statement of the Seahawks’ players released Tuesday read. “While many states in this country 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 league’s plan announced Wednesday has not been approved by the NFLPA, but as reported by the NFL Network, the league has the right to unilaterally set a structure for the program.
Phase One typically lasts just two weeks.
One thought is that the league hopes that by extending it to four and stating that for now, there would be no on-field work until May 17, steps can be taken to make players feel more comfortable about attending the program in person by then.
The league stated in a memo to teams Wednesday that all of the COVID-19 protocols in place during the 2020 season will remain in place, including daily testing, and that it hopes to have vaccines available for players, staff and families during Phase One.
The Seahawks were the only team in the NFL not to have a player test positive during the 2020 season.
Some players throughout the league have bonuses tied to taking part in the offseason program. However, the Seahawks do not typically include such bonuses in contracts. The only Seahawk who has a bonus tied to offseason workouts is safety Quandre Diggs at $100,000. That was part of a contract that Diggs signed with Detroit before he was traded to Seattle midway through the 2019 season.