Tennessee earned its nickname as the Volunteer State because of its citizens’ willingness to show up.
The Tennessee Titans have decided to do the opposite.
Tuesday, Titans players became the latest to decide to collectively sit out the voluntary portion of the NFL offseason, which means there will be no in-person football activities before June minicamps, which the league has said can be mandatory. The players released a statement about their decision through the NFL Players Association.
“We have come together as a team and have had several conversations about what is best for the players in our locker room,” the statement read. “Based on the injury data from the previous year, along with facts and recommendation provided by our union, we are in solidarity with other players across the NFL who will exercise their right to no attend in-person voluntary workouts. We understand that some players will need to be at our facility for different reasons during this time and we respect the right of every player afforded to us in our CBA.”
Phase one of the offseason program commenced this week. During that time, players are allowed to gather at team facilities for organized condition work.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been cited as a primary reason for players’ desire to limit in-person contact at a time when rosters can have as many as 90 players.
However, after last season when the coronavirus created the need for a virtual offseason prior to training camp, many said they felt better prepared physically for the season having not participated in in-person conditioning work, organized team activities (OTAs) and mini-camps as had been the norm for years.
The Titans relied on roster continuity to help them through the virtual offseason. They started the season with five straight victories, finished 11-5 and won the AFC South for the first time since 2008.
That is not the case this year. Many prominent players from the 2020 roster are now members of other franchises because they were not re-signed or they were released to help alleviate salary-cap issues.
Team officials have not yet said how they plan to proceed in the wake of the players’ decision.