Almost two-thirds of NFL teams say they won’t participate in voluntary offseason workout programs without COVID-19 protocols in place.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, whose players are among the 20 teams that have announced they won't participate in the workouts, isn’t upset by the move.
“It’s not time yet. The opting-out thing doesn’t bother me at all,” Arians said Monday, via the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud. “We were going to be virtual to the middle of May anyway.”
Vikings become 20th team to opt out
The Minnesota Vikings became the latest team to officially opt out of the voluntary workouts Monday due to the “ongoing threat of COVID-19 and the inadequate safety procedures recommended by the NFL.”
The Vikings’ statement is similar to the statements released through the NFLPA by the 19 other teams who made the move before them.
The 12 teams still participating, as of Monday afternoon, are:
Washington Football Team, Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Green Bay Packers, Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs.
The movement to opt out of these workouts started with Broncos NFLPA representative Brandon McManus and safety Justin Simmons, who expressed their concern about what they call a lack of safety procedures in place.
Voluntary in-person workouts were called off last offseason due to the coronavirus pandemic, which was just getting started throughout the United States. The voluntary workouts generally take place ahead of the NFL draft and then again in May after the draft each offseason, while mandatory workouts don’t start until June.
The NFL expects players to resume normal offseason schedules despite the ongoing pandemic, and that all Tier 1 and 2 employees (not players) should “expect to be vaccinated.” Anyone who doesn’t without an exemption will not have access to parts of team facilities and players.
While the decision to skip the voluntary workouts may bother some coaches throughout the league, Arians seems completely content with the schedule his team is on this offseason. The Bucs won a Super Bowl without the workouts last year, after all, so it clearly didn't impact them on the field too much.
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