Back to ‘Virtual’ School Day for Eagles

The Eagles and the rest of the NFL kicked off the road to the 2021 season virtually
Author:
Publish date:

PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles and the rest of the NFL are back to work, sort of anyway.

Nick Sirianni's first offseason program as the head coach of the Eagles kicked off Monday in a virtual fashion, much like last year's COVID-19 affected calendar.

The Phase I period of the NFL's offseason work extends through May 14 and clubs are permitted to hold virtual meetings but are not permitted to engage in any on-field work.

Players are permitted to work out at the NovaCare Complex with the help and guidance of the strength and conditioning coaches but the Eagles players are staying away from that.

In a statement released Sunday through the NFL Players Association, the Eagles’ players said they would not participate in any of this year's voluntary workouts.

“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 read. "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."

Phase 2 of offseason work is the period of May 17-21, which would allow a limited number of non-contact, on-field drills with coaches overseeing things, and a rookie/first-year minicamp is still penciled in for that period.

During Phase 3 (between May 24 and June 18), teams can hold up to 10 OTAs and also hold their mandatory minicamps, which is the only part of the offseason that is not voluntary.

Last year's offseason program turned into a 100 percent virtual affair due to the pandemic and the NFLPA would like this year to follow that path until training camp in late July or early August.

“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," the Eagles' statement read. “We also know what 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.”

Despite the statement, an NFL source confirmed to SI.com's EagleMaven that veteran players with workout bonuses in their contracts were given permission to participate, however.

According to ESPN, there are 203 players league-wide with workout bonuses tied to voluntary workouts. Paraphrased the NFLPA told them 'yeah, go ahead and get your money. But, big-picture, they’d also rather players stop agreeing to contract terms that give away negotiated CBA rights.'

Per Spotrac.com, the Eagles have only $270,000 tied to workout bonuses far off league pace-setter Green Bay, which has $5 million earmarked toward voluntary work.

Virtual or not Sirianni and his coaching staff need to take advantage of whatever teaching time it gets with the players to implement the new offensive and defensive schemes.

And that started Monday with Sirianni addressing his team as a group for the first time.

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven and host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.