Broncos players announced on Tuesday that they will not participate in the team’s voluntary offseason workouts due to COVID-19 concerns.
“With offseason programs starting in less than a week and without adequate protocols in place in order for us players to return safely, we will be exercising our right to not participate in voluntary offseason workouts,” Denver’s players said in a statement by the NFL Players Association. “COVID-19 remains a serious threat to our families and to our communities, and it makes no sense to us as players to put ourselves at risk during this dead period.
“Positivity rates in our city are higher than they were at this time last year and we know players have been infected at club facilities in recent weeks.”
Denver’s decision follows the recommendation from NFLPA president JC Tretter, who urged players not to show up to voluntary offseason activities, according to the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
The NFL currently plans to begin its offseason program on April 19.
“The NFL doesn’t get to decide when the pandemic is over, or when we get to stop caring about COVID,” Tretter said in March, per The Athletic‘s Lindsay Jones. “Our guys can still get [COVID-19]. They don’t want to make themselves vulnerable to that during unnecessary practices in the springtime.”
The Seahawks joined the Broncos’ mass opt-out on Tuesday afternoon. Seattle’s players said they will return to the field if they see “a positive shift in the COVID-19 data,” per an NFLPA statement.
The Buccaneers echoed the Broncos and Seahawks’ sentiments as they released a statement on Tuesday night. The Lions, Bears and Browns, Raiders, Steelers, and Falcons have since followed suit.