NFL, union approve virtual off-season workout programs

The NFL and its players union have agreed to conduct “virtual” off-season workout programs due to the COVID-19 pandemic until every team is permitted to open its facilities.

Teams can hold voluntary classroom instruction, workouts and non-football educational programs using online platforms, according to a memo sent to the teams that was obtained by The Associated Press.

League executive Troy Vincent said it’s imperative to be “reasonable and responsible in the current environment.”

The three-week, virtual off-season starts on April 20 for teams with new head coaches and April 27 for the others. It runs through May 15. Teams with a new head coach have the option to go four weeks.

A team can’t begin its virtual program after April 27. Teams also can’t save their virtual weeks for use after facilities open and players return to the field.

Participating players must be paid the $235 daily minimum and players with off-season workout bonuses must be credited for their participation in those sessions. Each rookie player will receive a minimum of $135 for each day he participates in a club’s development program.

Teams can provide workout equipment worth up to $1,500 per player.

The league’s off-season program concludes June 26. If stay-at-home orders throughout the country continue into the summer, teams will have to conduct a mandatory veteran minicamp in a virtual manner.

“Whatever we do is going to be in compliance with the governing rules of the particular state and it’s going to be consistent with good and recommended medical health practices,” NFL lead counsel Jeff Pash said. “We’re going to do it in a way that preserves competitive equity and doesn’t expose anyone to risks that the medical profession says people shouldn’t be exposed to. We’re going to rely on that kind of guidance.”

Pash said the league has not discussed contingency plans to alter the schedule, or play games outside a team’s home stadium.

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