The NFLPA reportedly will not push for teams whose players have workout bonuses in their contracts to skip offseason workouts.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported teams like the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers, who both have rosters laden with workout bonuses, will not be pushed to skip OTAs and forfeit that money.
Players from the Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions have already announced plans to skip voluntary workout sessions. The NFLPA has been pushing hard for an all-virtual offseason, similar to 2020, over player safety concerns.
NFLPA president JC Tretter has been at the forefront of pushing for better safety protocols in place for players, both in terms of COVID-19 testing and overall wear-and-tear.
“The good news for our sport is that while the NFL season looked and felt noticeably different from previous years, we learned that the game of football did not suffer at the expense of protecting its players more than ever before,” Tretter wrote in a letter to union members this month. “Our process is to follow the science on what is safest for our guys, and many of the changes this past year—like no in-person offseason workouts/practices, the extended acclimation period before training camp and no preseason games—gave us a year of data that demonstrates maintaining some of these changes long-term is in the best interest of the game.”
The Broncos, Seahawks, Buccaneers and Lions do not typically put workout bonuses into their player contracts, though the players' statements seemed to leave some flexibility for those who do have workout-related bonuses. It's expected that more teams will follow suit, but it appears the union will leave the decisions up to the individual teams.
Florio notes that some teams may choose to convene at team facilities over a fear of losing a competitive edge. With the Bills, Packers, Jaguars and Chiefs having a significant contingent of players due bonuses for attending workouts, it's possible players within their respective divisions will also choose to hold workouts.
The situation presents an odd labor dynamic, whereby the union is attempting to make long-term changes while allowing its workforce to make individual decisions at their best short-term financial interest.
The physical toll of football will become an increasingly large talking point with the NFL set to expand to a 17-game regular season in 2021. As part of the league's collective bargaining agreement, the NFL must renegotiate offseason protocols with the union due to the regular-season expansion.