Dec 15, 2019; Landover, MD, USA; Philadelphia Eagles players  helmets rest on the bench at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Eagles join teams planning to skip in-person workouts

Players for the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday became the latest to announce they won’t be attending in-person voluntary workouts.

At least 18 other NFL teams have issued similar statements, according to NBC Sports.

The NFL Players Association released a four-paragraph statement on behalf of Philadelphia’s players:

“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,” the statement reads. “Our teammates have come together to make a decision as a team 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.”

On Saturday, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said in an interview with ESPN that the union supports the players’ right to skip the voluntary offseason workouts amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve known for years that this is a voluntary workout where a lot of coaches put their finger on the scale and, while they call it voluntary, they expect players to show up,” Smith said.

“I think that what you’re seeing now is, for the first time, players exercising their voice … to say ‘no.’ And frankly it’s probably one of the few times that coaches have ever heard players say ‘no.’ And for some players, it’s probably the first time they’ve said ‘no’ to their coach.”

The league released its official, universal plan for teams with the offseason beginning officially on Monday with Phase I, which lasts four weeks and prohibits on-field work with coaches.

Training camps are expected to begin the last week of July.

–Field Level Media

Feb 4, 2020; Tampa, FL, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer speak before Super Bowl LV between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

NFLPA head backs players skipping voluntary workouts

NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith says the union is siding with players who are opting to skip voluntary workouts this offseason.

Players from nearly half of the league’s teams have announced they won’t attend voluntary offseason workouts, a right the union has fought for, which Smith pointed out in an interview on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” on Saturday.

“We’ve known for years that this is a voluntary workout where a lot of coaches put their finger on the scale and, while they call it voluntary, they expect players to show up,” said Smith.

“I think that what you’re seeing now is, for the first time, players exercising their voice … to say ‘no.’ And frankly it’s probably one of the few times that coaches have ever heard players say ‘no.’ And for some players, it’s probably the first time they’ve said ‘no’ to their coach.”

The league released its official, universal plan for teams with the offseason beginning officially on Monday with Phase I, which lasts four weeks and prohibits on-field work with coaches.

Players from several teams, including the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots and Denver Broncos, issued statements in the past two days detailing their plans to skip voluntary workouts.

One point of contention for players is likely to be on-field organized team activities (OTAs), which remain in the offseason plan despite opposition from the NFLPA.

Smith points to last year’s fully virtual program as evidence that skipping voluntary workouts makes sense.

“This is a negotiated, bargained for, voluntary offseason workout where if someone came to you or me and said, ‘I have a way of cutting concussions by 30 percent and I know a way to decrease missed time to injuries by 23 percent,’ I would think that almost everyone would wholeheartedly embrace that whether it was voluntary or not.”

He also noted that the union has no objection to players who do show up.

“I think it’s important for players to make their own decisions, not only as professionals, not only as a way of taking ownership of their own healthcare, but making their own decision as a man,” said Smith.

Training camps are expected to begin the last week of July.

–Field Level Media

Sep 14, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; A Denver Broncos helmet on the ground before the game against the Tennessee Titans at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos, Seahawks to skip voluntary in-person workouts

Players from the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks issued statements through the NFL Players Association on Tuesday announcing they will not participate in voluntary in-person organized team activities this spring due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With offseason programs starting in less than a week and without adequate protocols in place in order for us players to return safely, we will be exercising our right to not participate in voluntary offseason workouts,” the Broncos statement read. “COVID-19 remains a serious threat to our families and to our communities, and it makes no sense for us as players to put ourselves at risk during this dead period. Positivity rates in our city are higher than they were at this time last year and we know players have been infected at club facilities in recent weeks.

“Despite having a completely virtual offseason last year, the quality of play across the NFL was better than ever by almost every measure. We hope players across the NFL work with our union as we did to get all of the facts so every player can make an informed decision.”

The Seattle Seahawks issued a similar statement.

“For the protection of everyone’s safety, we the Seattle Seahawks are deciding to exercise our CBA right to not participate in voluntary in-person workouts,” the statement read, in part. “While many states in this country are still seeing rising COVID-19 numbers, we believe that a virtual offseason is best for everyone’s protection.

“Our hope is that we will see a positive shift in the COVID-19 data that will allow for a safe return for players when mandatory workouts are set to begin.”

Last Friday, NFLPA president JC Tretter said the union will urge players not to show up if teams conduct in-person OTAs. On Tuesday, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and Tretter reiterated the union’s position in a memo sent to all players.

“We have been in regular contact with the NFL on negotiations over a virtual offseason,” the memo reads, per NFL Media. “As we have shared with your Executive Committee and Board, it is clear that neither side wants to move off their respective position. As we have made clear throughout bargaining: The COVID status in the country is as perilous as it was at this point last year; a number of players recently tested positive at team facilities. COVID weekly positive rates are as high, if not higher than, at this point last offseason; and NFL players who contracted COVID last season can become infected again.

“We believe that having the same offseason rules as last year is in the best interest of … the players and gives us the best chance of completing a full NFL season in 2021.

“As you know, other than minicamps, all offseason workouts are completely voluntary despite some of the language used by the clubs in recent days. And, while the CBA allows the teams to host mandatory minicamps, we believe the league should make them virtual just like last season.

“It is the recommendation of the NFLPA based on our medical experts’ advice that if the voluntary offseason program is in person, players should not attend. Therefore, as teams host calls to discuss these issues we urge that all players consider their own health and safety, make a personal decision about attending voluntary workouts and take into consideration the unanimous recommendation of the NFLPA COVID committee that we have an entirely virtual offseason.”

Offseason programs can begin on Monday.

–Field Level Media

Feb 7, 2020; Tampa, FL, USA;  General view of the NFL Shield logo on the field before Super Bowl LV between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: NFL salary cap to be set at $182.5M

The NFL has informed every team that this year’s salary cap will be set at $182.5 million, a 7.9 percent decrease from last season, per multiple reports Wednesday.

Last year’s salary cap was $198.2 million before the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc with league revenues.

This year’s cap was set in conjunction with the NFL Players Association based on 2020 results and 2021 projections as owners anticipate a significant rebound in attendance from the capacity restrictions last season. Attendance in 2020 was slashed 93 percent due to the pandemic.

An NFL-NFLPA agreement to spread out the players’ losses over three years allowed the cap to be higher than expected.

Last month the league and NFLPA set the floor at $180 million, up $5 million from their previous agreement.

The new league year begins March 17.

–Field Level Media

Feb 4, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith speaks during a press conference ahead of Super Bowl LV, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021 in Tampa, Fla. Mandatory Credit: Perry Knotts/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Report: NFLPA chief tells agents to collude on free-agent offers

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith told player agents they should collude on free-agent offers to keep teams honest on the reduced salary cap, ESPN reported.

Smith made the comments during an all-agent seminar on Thursday, ESPN reported, citing a person on the videoconference.

Smith expects the 2021 salary cap to be close to the $180 million floor negotiated by the league and the NFLPA, per the report. The cap was $198.2 million last year, prior to the coronavirus pandemic slashing team and league revenues.

Smith told the agents it’s OK to work together to get best possible terms for players, per the report.

While teams are not allowed to collude, there’s no law against players exchanging information, per the report.

–Field Level Media

Jan 24, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; A sign featuring Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) with COVID-19 protocol is seen before the AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

No players test positive in NFL’s latest COVID-19 results

No NFL players tested positive in the most recent round of COVID-19 testing, the league and the NFL Players Association announced Tuesday.

There was one positive test among other team personnel in the Jan. 24-30 testing period.

In all, 2,567 tests were administered to 152 players and 278 team personnel in advance of Super Bowl LV, set for Sunday between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa.

Throughout the testing period from Aug. 1 through Jan. 30, approximately 957,400 tests were administered. During that time, 262 players and 463 other personnel had confirmed positive cases.

–Field Level Media

Oct 18, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  An usher holds a sign as a  reminder of COVID-19 restrictions in place for fans during the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh won 38-7. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

COVID-19 cases climb in latest round of testing

The National Football League and NFL Players Association reported 58 positive COVID-19 tests in the past week, up from 45 in each of the two previous weeks.

A total of 21 players and 37 staff members tested positive during the period from Dec. 20-26.

There were 41,047 tests were administered to 6,785 players and team personnel. Among those, 16,180 tests were performed on 2,364 players and 24,867 tests were administered to 4,421 personnel.

Since monitoring began on Aug. 1, a total of 222 players and 396 other personnel have had confirmed positive tests for COVID-19. Approximately 881,510 tests have been administered through Dec. 26.

The 17-week NFL regular season concludes this Sunday with all 32 teams in action.

–Field Level Media

Aug 24, 2020; Costa Mesa California, USA; A face mask advisory sign at Los Angeles Chargers training camp amid the global coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Positive tests for NFL players top 200 for the season

The National Football League and NFL Players Association reported 45 positive COVID-19 tests in the past week, the same number for a third straight week.

A total of 14 players and 31 staff members tested positive during the period from Dec. 13-19.

Those were the exact numbers for the week of Dec. 6-12, while the 45 positives from Nov. 29-Dec. 5 included 18 players and 27 team personnel.

On the latest report, the league and union said 41,501 tests were administered to a total of 6,927 players and team personnel. Among those, 16,222 tests were administered to 2,391 players and 25,279 tests were given to 4,536 personnel.

Since monitoring began Aug. 1, 201 players and 359 other personnel have had confirmed positives for COVID-19. Approximately 840,460 tests have been administered through Dec. 19.

–Field Level Media

Oct 18, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh talks with defensive end Jihad Ward (53) against the Philadelphia Eagles  at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

NFL reports 45 new positive COVID-19 tests over past week

The National Football League and NFL Players Association reported 45 positive COVID-19 tests in the past week, holding steady from last week.

Testing for the period from Dec. 6-12 found 14 players tested positive, along with 31 from other team personnel. Last week, there were 18 positive tests among players and 27 among other personnel — a drop from about 75 each of the previous two weeks.

On the new report, the league and union said 41,857 tests were administered to a total of 6,960 players and team personnel. Among those, 16,340 tests were administered to 2,389 players and 25,517 tests were given to 4,571 personnel.

Since monitoring began Aug. 1, 187 players and 328 other personnel have had confirmed positives for COVID-19. Approximately 795,960 tests have been administered through Dec. 12.

The NFL enacted intensive protocols last month to help mitigate and contain the spread of COVID-19 within the league.

–Field Level Media

Nov 1, 2020; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  A member of M&T Bank Stadium security holds up a sign reminding patrons to wear masks during a game between the Pittsburgh Steelers amd Baltimore Ravens. Mandatory Credit: Mitchell Layton-USA TODAY Sports

NFL tops 50 positive tests for 2nd straight week

The NFL and NFL Players Association reported more than 50 positive COVID-19 cases for the second consecutive week on Tuesday.

Testing for the period from Nov. 8-14 resulted in 52 new cases: 17 among players and 35 among other personnel.

There were 56 confirmed positive tests in the previous monitoring period from Nov. 1-7 (15 players, 41 personnel).

On this latest report, the league and union said 43,148 tests were administered to a total of 7,856 players and team personnel. Among those, 17,161 tests were administered to 2,482 players and 25,987 tests were given to 5,374 personnel.

Since monitoring began Aug. 1, 95 players and 175 other personnel have had confirmed positives for COVID-19. Approximately 645,000 tests have been administered through Nov. 14.

–Field Level Media