PHILADELPHIA - The Eagles joined a growing list of NFL teams that have decided to stay away from voluntary offseason workouts.
In a statement released by the NFLPA Sunday, Philadelphia became the 17th documented team to officially say it will stay away from the physical part of the offseason program which is set to begin in a virtual-only fashion on Monday, April 19.
“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."
The decision was not unexpected as the union has done a good job keeping the players on the same page while the Players Association and the league continue to negotiate what the offseason will look like after the COVID-19 pandemic turned 2020 into the first virtual offseason.
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From the NFLPA's perspective, the status quo of 2020 should remain, at least until there is more certainty regarding the pandemic and just how safe things are.
It would be disingenuous to claim that the players are also not interested in quality-of-life issues and would like offseason work to continue to be scaled back for that reason.
There are certain Eagles veterans who will be losing out on workout bonus money if they do not participate in the physical OTAs.
“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 Eagles players' said in the statement. “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 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.”
In theory, the new Eagles coaching staff, led by Nick Sirianni, would like as much time as possible with the players to implement new schemes while trying to build a successful culture.
As of now, the Eagles’ upcoming rookie class will still be required to attend a minicamp in May, so the younger players will have an opportunity to catch the new staff's eyes.
An unintended consequence to that is back-end-of-the-roster veterans could be at a disadvantage against first-year players. Obviously. the high-profile Eagles have little to worry about when it comes to the absence of voluntary work.
The first phase of OTAs runs from April 19 to May 14 and was already shifted to an all-virtual format by the league.
The second phase - running from May 17-21 - is scheduled to include virtual meetings as well as on-field drills with coaches. That would be the first physical work missed by the Eagles players' decision on Sunday.
Right now, mandatory minicamp in June is still penciled in and all players would need to attend unless the league and the NFLPA negotiate something new in the coming weeks.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.