The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are electing to not participate in voluntary workouts this offseason, citing concerns over safety protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Bucs released a statement through the NFL Players Association on Tuesday night sharing their decision, making them the third team to opt-out of the voluntary program after the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks did the same earlier in the day.
"NFL players across our league are a group of professionals who care about our jobs, our community and our families. We made a commitment to the organization, to Bucs fans and to each other that we would come back to try and bring another world championship to Tampa Bay," the NFLPA released on behalf of the team.
"We know that our union worked to negotiate safety protocols, but in light of the ongoing pandemic, we are choosing to take a stand with other players across the league and exercise our right to not participate in the voluntary offseason program. We had a fully virtual offseason last year and we held each other accountable to do the work ut took to win and we plan to do that again."
The NFL has yet to comment on the teams' decisions to not partake in voluntary workouts. The first set of workouts across the league are set to begin this coming Monday.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports that more teams are expected to choose to not participate in the workouts, and similar announcements are expected to continue emerging.
The players union is reportedly aiming for an entirely virtual offseason prior to training camp, similar to the 2020 offseason which was significantly altered due to the pandemic.
Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians shared in March that he looks forward to offseason training in order for younger players to develop in ways they weren't able to a year ago. He acknowledged that veterans aren't as much in need of the training and that the workouts are voluntary.
When you look at the first, second, and now third-year players, they've missed all their development time," said Arians. "You know last year, none, you know for that group, so the first-year player coming into his second year had none. This year, you might draft a guy that opted out last year, so he's way behind. So, it's mandatory that we have this offseason for the young player development. Not for the veterans, that's voluntary anyway, but for the young player development it's huge."