As you’re surely well aware by now, this year’s NFL offseason workouts have been a point of tension between the NFLPA and the league. Many teams have announced their intention to skip workouts and proceed entirely virtually like they did last year. Lots of teams also issued statements saying that “many” of their players wouldn’t be attending, and one of those was the Patriots. Well New England started their program this past week, and now we have some details on which players showed up.
Most notably, Cam Newton was in attendance, according to Nicole Yang of the Boston Globe. Fellow Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham was also there. Yang points out that Newton has a $100K workout bonus in his contract, giving him some extra motivation. This will likely be something of a trend around the NFL, with quarterbacks wanting to take initiative and not be seen as slacking off. Newton isn’t assured the starting job in 2021, so it’s not surprising he’s doing everything he can to get on the coaching staff’s good side.
Here are some more updates on offseason programs:
- One team that won’t have anybody showing up is the Packers. That’s because rather than having some in and some out, Green Bay has elected to have the entire first month of their offseason program be virtual, a source told Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. Demovsky writes that the Packers will re-evaluate ahead of the start of the second phase of the offseason on May 17th. That’s when real on-field work is supposed to start, while right now programs are limited to weight room and conditioning work. The source also told Demovsky that players with workout bonuses “will be credited for attendance by logging on virtually.” Several high profile Packers have big bonuses, like Aaron Rodgers‘ $500K one, but as of right now we won’t get to see whether he would’ve chosen to show up or not.
- The Titans became the latest team to announce they wouldn’t attend in-person workouts, issuing a statement via the NFLPA’s twitter. Their statement sounds nearly universal.
- Even though we’re (hopefully) nearing the light at the end of the tunnel with the pandemic, it’s still having very real impacts on players, particularly the unheralded ones looking for a chance. The NFL has told teams they’ll be limited to a maximum of five tryout players at rookie minicamps next month, a source told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). As Pelissero notes, in normal years there are usually dozens of players invited to tryout at rookie minicamps, and many of them often end up getting signed. Many of these non-priority UDFAs have gone on to be major contributors in the league. Rookie minicamps didn’t happen at all in 2020, so this is at least a small step in a positive direction.