Minnesota Vikings players released a statement through the NFL Players Association on Monday explaining that they have decided not to attend voluntary offseason workouts in person.
"We have come together as a team and many of us have decided to exercise our right not to attend in-person, voluntary workouts. Given the ongoing threat of COVID-19 and the inadequate safety procedures recommended by the NFL, this is the safest path forward for us and our families. This decision was also informed by the dramatic drop in injuries we saw during the 2020 season.
We are committed as a team to holding each other accountable to ensure everyone is working out and participating in the virtual off-season. We understand that some players will go into the facility for different reasons, but feel strongly, as a unit, about putting our overall health and safety first."
What does this actually mean? Not a whole lot.
The Vikings are now the 20th team to release a statement of this kind, and I'd imagine there will be more to come. The Broncos sparked this trend by releasing a statement early last week. NFL players across the league are concerned about the safety protocols in place for in-person voluntary workouts, which weren't held last year due to the pandemic.
Prior to this statement, the Vikings organization had already given its players the option to proceed with Phase 1 of the offseason virtually. This is just the team officially choosing that option. This way, there will be no risk of veterans sacrificing workouts bonuses — eight players have $100K bonuses — by not showing up. They just have to be present in the virtual setting, same as last year.
As the statement says, some players will go to TCO Performance Center in the coming months for various reasons. Defensive tackle Michael Pierce, who opted out of last season, went to the facility recently to work out for the coaching staff, for example.
Phase 2 of the offseason — the mandatory workouts — begins in June. Training camp starts in August.
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