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Players from 14 teams announce they will skip voluntary in-person offseason workouts

Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, Los Angeles Rams, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, Las Vegas Raiders, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Chargers, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles players became the latest to release statements regarding plans to skip in-person voluntary offseason workouts.

In an announcement sent by the NFL Players Association on Thursday, Browns players stated they would be "exercising our [collective bargaining agreement] right to not attend in-person voluntary workouts this offseason," while Bears players said "a majority of our locker room" will not participate in in-person voluntary workouts. The Giants followed, stating they "stand in solidarity with players across our league" and will not attend in-person workouts as a group.

Cleveland, of which NFLPA president JC Tretter is the starting center, made its announcement Thursday afternoon not long after the Bears'.

"The NFL's memo outlining how they plan to implement voluntary workouts falls short of what we as players believe is adequate. The Cleveland Browns players agree that a virtual offseason, like we had last year, is the best decision for everyone in our league," the Browns players' statement read. "COVID-19 continues to affect our players, our families and our communities, and we must continue to take it seriously. In addition to the ongoing threat of the pandemic, we felt healthier both mentally and physically last year, which we attribute to sufficient recovery time and the lack of additional wear and tear on our bodies during the spring months. The league-wide injury data supports us as well, as NFL players experienced a 23% reduction in missed-time injuries last season.

"For these reasons, we stand in solidarity with players from other clubs by exercising our CBA right to not attend in-person voluntary workouts this offseason. We are professionals who train year-round, wherever we spend our offseason. As we proved last year, we will be ready to compete this upcoming season."

The Bears players statement was similar to that of the Browns in its outline of concerns regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic still affecting players, along with their families and communities, though they specified it was a "majority of our locker room" that would skip voluntary workouts.

"COVID-19 remains a risk both to our team, our families and to our fellow NFL players," the statement read. "We also saw the health and safety benefits of a fully virtual offseason, as injuries across the NFL were down last year. Players remain unclear about the protocols and protections, and rules remain inconsistent despite the last minute communication by the NFL yesterday. It is for these reasons that the majority of our locker room are choosing to exercise our right and not participate in in-person voluntary workouts in order to stay as safe as possible."

The Giants players' statement read that they were "a strong, unified brotherhood of professionals who love the game of football and work year-round to perfect our craft," but "also have to make the best decisions to protect our health and safety, which is why players on our team are exercising our CBA right to not attend in-person voluntary workouts."

Players from the Raiders announced, "given the date and face shared by our union about reduced injuries and other health benefits of the virtual offseason last year, players from our team will not participate in a voluntary in-person workout program."

On Friday, Steelers players released a statement through the NFLPA joining those who have previously let it be known they will not participate in voluntary in-person workouts.

"With the current pandemic still affecting our communities and country, and the lack of clear protocols and protections regarding returning to work at full capacity, the players of the Pittsburgh Steelers have decided to exercise our right to not participate in voluntary in-person activities," the statement read in part.

Also on Friday, the Rams announced they have "decided as a team" to not attend in-person voluntary team activities. "While we all feel optimism that the pandemic can be beaten, we are still in the fight and believe it is unnecessary at this time for players to be volunteering to put themselves at risk for in-person workouts, with our players currently around the country working to safely improve their game on their own," the NFLPA-issued statement read in part.

The Dolphins announced via the NFLPA on Friday that the team met to discuss the current situation regarding COVID-19 and the NFL's "lack of clear and timely protocols," and have decided to "stand in solidarity with players across the league who are making informed decisions to exercise their right to not attend voluntary in-person workouts this offseason."

Miami also cited that the "most significant fact from that discussion was the health and safety benefits of a fully virtual offseason," noting that the "league-wide injury data showed players experienced a 23 percent reduction in missed time" last year.

The Falcons' statement was similar to that of the Bears, beginning with: "Many of our players will decide to exercise their right to not attend the voluntary offseason program."

The NFLPA released a statement later Friday on behalf of the Chargers including the following: "We had a virtual offseason last year that protected us and our families from a pandemic, but also showed beneficial to our overall health and safety. We have a right in our CBA to choose whether or not we attend in-person offseason workouts and many on our team have made the decision to not attend."

The Jets followed suit on Friday with a statement, via the NFLPA, which read in part: "Football is a labor of love for our men, who work year-round to stay in shape and prepare ourselves to perform at the highest level. Given that we are still in a pandemic and based on the facts provided to our membership by our union about the health and safety benefits of a virtual offseason, many of us will exercise our CBA right and not attend in-person voluntary workouts."

On Saturday, 49ers players released a statement through the NFLPA stating, "The fight against COVID-19 is still ongoing and case numbers are still concerning. We are apprehensive about taking avoidable risks in the spring as we prepare to perform at the highest level in the fall. Given these considerations, many in our locker room have chosen not to attend some or all of the voluntary in-person workouts."

The NFLPA also released a statement from the Saints, which read in part: "We came together as a team and we will not be attending in-person voluntary workouts."

The Ravens later followed suit, saying via the NFLPA, "We have decided to exercise our CBA right not to attend in-person voluntary offseason workouts."

On Sunday, an NFLPA statement released on behalf of Philadelphia Eagles players noted: "We have shared and talked about the facts from our union and our players will not be attending in-person voluntary workouts."

The announcements Thursday were the first since the NFL sent a memo to teams detailing plans for the offseason workout program Wednesday, which includes in-person workouts in phase two, which runs from May 17-May 21, and phase three, which runs from May 24 through June 18 mandatory minicamps.

There currently have been 19 sets of players to issue a statement through the NFLPA regarding plans not to participate or not fully participate in in-person workouts.

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