Although the 2021 NFL Draft is right around the corner, the NFL is also about to begin the first phase of offseason training activities. OTAs signal the start of a new season as it is the first official period where coaches and players can work together on the field in helmets.
With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic improving in the past couple of months, there is optimism that normalcy is on the horizon for the league. Still, several teams have decided to boycott OTAs. So far, the Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, and reigning Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers have already chosen to follow the NFL Players Association’s direction and skip out on the voluntary workouts.
The Las Vegas Raiders roster became the most recent team to skip OTAs, releasing their own statement via the NFLPA.
A statement from the Las Vegas Raiders players: pic.twitter.com/OUQqvsphGp
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) April 15, 2021
Last year, the offseason program was exclusively virtual, and it appears as though the Raiders and the other teams that have boycotted in-person workouts would be fine with that same format. The coronavirus situation is still dangerous despite the uptick in vaccination distribution and lower case rates, so not reporting for OTAs is likely the smarter move for the players.
However, Las Vegas’ statement does leave some room for players to still participate as a few of them have contract incentives for attending. For example, players like Derek Carr and Darren Waller have workout bonuses, so it stands to reason that the pairing could still show up.
With how things have unfolded this past week, more teams will likely follow the Silver and Black’s lead and opt to sit out. The NFLPA has been urging players for weeks to boycott, and it looks like most teams will be operating from home for the second consecutive season.