The NFL has reportedly established that teams cannot release players based solely on whether or not they are vaccinated against COVID-19.
According to Mark Maske of the Washington Post, the NFL made that point clear in speaking with Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane after he recently commented on that possibility.
In an interview with One Bills Live (h/t Sal Maiorana of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle) this week, Beane was asked if he would consider cutting an unvaccinated player at the back end of the roster if it helped allow the Bills to hold meetings without strict health and safety protocols.
Beane said: "Yeah, I would, because it would be an advantage."
"These meetings were not as productive as before. I mean, you guys saw it in the fieldhouse. We had three and 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 distant, so it would be an advantage to cut a player and fall under that umbrella."
The NFL hasn't yet announced what percentage of a team has to be vaccinated in order for health and safety protocols to be relaxed, but Maiorana noted that Major League Baseball has a threshold of 85 percent.
Players from many teams have announced that they will not report for in-person voluntary organized team activities this offseason amid the COVID-19 pandemic. That will force those teams to hold OTAs virtually, which was the case last year.
Eventually, players will have to report for training camp in preparation for the preseason and regular season, and it is at that point that determinations will have to be made with regard to health and safety protocols.
Beane, who was named the NFL Executive of the Year last season, clearly covets his team being able to have something as closely resembling a normal training camp as possible.
The Bills are coming off a trip to the AFC Championship Game and their first AFC East division title since 1995.
Beane managed to bring back most of the same key players from last year's 13-3 team. Leading the offense will be quarterback Josh Allen, who finished second to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the MVP voting.
The Bills are very much in contention for a Super Bowl berth and championship. Reaching the vaccination threshold is something that could give them an advantage over their competition.
However, releasing a player simply because they haven't received the vaccine is no longer an option on the table for Beane or any other NFL GM.