Bills GM Says He'd Cut Unvaccinated Player in Order to Have Regular OffseasonMay 5, 2021
Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane said during an interview on radio show One Bills Live with Chris Brown and Steve Tasker that he would release an unvaccinated player if it meant his team could have a normal offseason rather than one with socially distanced, masked or virtual meetings.
His comments came after he was posed a hypothetical wherein teams could return to normal procedures if they hit a certain threshold for vaccinated players (h/t ESPN's Marcel Louis-Jacques):
"Yeah. I would [cut an unvaccinated player in such a scenario]. Because it'd be an advantage. We're laughing, but these meetings [last season] were not as productive as before. You guys saw it in the field house—sometimes we'd have three to four meetings going on, and sometimes you're talking over each other. But it was the only way to pull it off and be socially distanced. So it would be an advantage to cut a player and fall under that umbrella."
The NFL has not implemented such a hypothetical, so Beane may never be faced with this decision. But he made it clear how he'd handle the situation, even though it's fair to question if he'd change his tune if one of the team's star players went unvaccinated.
And Beane said he wouldn't be surprised if the NFL introduced some sort of incentive for teams to have largely vaccinated rosters:
"The early indications are that if you're vaccinated... that you are probably going to have to test once a week. But if you're not, then you'd have to test every day like we did last year. Still unsure about the masking, how that would go. I think there's going to be some incentives to where, if you have X percentage of your players and staff vaccinated, you can live normal, let's just call it. Back to the old days.
"If you don't, it's going to look more like last year. ... I hope that, if those are the rules, we'll be able to get enough people vaccinated and not have to deal with all the headaches from a year ago."
It remains uncertain if the NFL will mirror its strict health and safety protocols from a year ago, with the option of a vaccine for players. Many players are choosing to avoid voluntary workouts at team facilities amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, however, preferring remote meetings this offseason.
The NFL has not made vaccinations mandatory for players. Such a measure would likely be met with backlash from the NFL Players Association.