Philadelphia Eagles players issued the following collective statement via the NFL Players Association on Sunday morning (bold emphasis mine):
“We believe in the solidarity of players across the NFL and using our collective voice to stand up for each other and what’s right. Our teammates have come together to make a decision as to what is best for us this offseason. We have shared and talked about the facts from our union and our players will not be attending in-person voluntary workouts.
We know that every player has to make a decision that is best for him, but to stand in solidarity with the brotherhood of players across the NFL, we have decided to come together on this choice.
The ongoing pandemic is obviously still an issue for our city and our country, and it is unnecessary for us to put ourselves at risk in this environment. We also know what the data shows about our overall health and safety.
As a team and as professionals, we will hold each other accountable as we always do to stay in shape and get ready for the upcoming season.”
This development hardly comes as a shock since the Eagles are now the 19th team to issue a statement on spring workouts. Opting out has recently become a trend.
In theory, it would be ideal for the Eagles players to attend spring workouts since they have a new coaching staff and new schemes to learn.
Then again, the value of OTAs is probably overstated. There was thought that the Eagles were going to have a significant advantage last year as the only NFC East team returning their head coach. Instead, they finished last in the division.
Selfishly, I wouldn’t mind having some spring workout practice notes to write up for BGN. But that’s not really important. Players are well within their rights to not attend a voluntary program that is set to begin tomorrow, Monday, April 19. Besides, the decision to stay away could lower the risk of COVID-19 infection and/or season-ending injuries being suffered in May.
Here’s an overview of the NFL’s offseason workout schedule, which does include a mandatory three-day minicamp in June. Players are subject to fines for not attending those sessions. Training camp, which begins in late July, is obviously mandatory as well.
- April 19 through May 14
- Virtual meetings
- Two hours per day at club’s direction
- No on-field drills or work with coaches
- Facility and weight room capacity limits remain in place
- Clubs will make every effort to have the vaccine available for players, staff, and families during the first phase of the program
- May 17 through May 21
- Virtual meetings
- On-field drills with coaches per CBA rules — no contact/teaching pace
- May 24 through June 18
- Traditional OTAs (10 days) — full speed but no contact
- In-person or virtual meetings
- Includes mandatory minicamp