The entire landscape of the NFL's offseason activities remains undetermined, but the league took an initial step toward that effort Tuesday.
The league informed clubs they can begin Phase One of the offseason workout program on April 19, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported.
Players are allowed to work out at the team facility in small groups, Pelissero added.
The league on Wednesday sent a memo to clubs noting they should prepare to conduct meetings virtually when offseason programs begin, Pelissero reported. But an all-virtual workout program like 2020 is not expected; teams will be gathering on the field this spring. While the NFL is not mandating vaccinations, there are incentives attached to them, including the elimination of daily testing.
"It is also anticipated that clubs that achieve a certain rate of vaccination among its tiered staff and players may be permitted to relax restrictions that apply to meetings, mealtime and use of locker rooms," the memo stated.
It's important to specify that this is not the start of organized team activities, which permits 7-on-7, 9-on-9 and 11-on-11 drills and is as close to training camp practice as teams are allowed to get during the offseason. The timing of those have yet to be determined.
In a typical, pre-pandemic offseason, offseason workouts would begin near the current date of April 19 or slightly earlier, followed by a voluntary minicamp, then a rookie minicamp for the new drafted and undrafted additions, then OTAs, closing with mandatory minicamp in June. Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out that entire period of participation, leading notable league veterans to voice their thoughts on the traditional offseason process, which they felt was unnecessary following the completion of a season that didn't include one.
With this in mind, the league has been working with clubs and the NFLPA on a proper offseason schedule for 2021. The two sides continue to discuss virtual versus in-person meetings, and on-field work that would typically follow those preliminary meetings, per Pelissero.
Most of the offseason activities' timing remains undetermined, but players at least now know when their teams can begin their offseason in-person strength and conditioning programs.