The NFL announced plans for the 2021 offseason program Wednesday, but not before New England Patriots players became the fifth group to declare their intention to stay away from their facility.
Like the players on the four previous teams to make that statement, the Patriots players did it through the NFLPA.
The one difference between that statement and those involving players from the other four teams — Denver, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Detroit — was the use of "many of us," which suggests some Patriots players were planning on attending the offseason workouts, which we should remind everyone are voluntary outside of one mandatory minicamp.
One incentive for players to attend offseason workouts are workout bonuses inserted into certain contracts.
The Patriots have nine players with 2021 workout bonuses, according to spotrac.com, but none bigger than the $500,000 going to offensive tackle Trent Brown, who is back for a second stint in New England after being acquired in an offseason trade with the Las Vegas Raiders.
Cam Newton, Matthew Slater and linebacker Brandon King all have $100,000 workout bonuses, per spotrac, while guard Marcus Martin, defensive end Tashawn Bower, linebacker LaRoy Reynolds, defensive lineman Montravius Adams and cornerback Dee Virgin all have bonuses between $15,000 and $50,000.
The offseason program, based on the information released by the NFL, will run for nine weeks as in the past, with the Patriots and every other team getting started Monday and wrapping things up June 18 after four weeks of OTAs.
Sometime during those four weeks will be the mandatory minicamp.
That's obviously a change from last year when the entire offseason program was virtual because of the COVID-19 outbreak,
Meetings will be virtual for at least the first two phases of the offseason program, April 19 through May 21. The second phase, from May 17-21, will feature on-field work with coaches but at a teaching pace and with no contact.
The offseason plan includes both a post-draft rookie minicamp and a rookie football development program. The rookie minicamp can be scheduled either one or two weekends after the draft, meaning either May 7-9 or May 14-16.
The NFLPA, which has been pushing for a second consecutive all-virtual offseason program, did not agree to this setup but the league has the right to implement those rules, according to NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero.
The next question then will be seeing which Patriots players show up when the offseason program kicks off.