After players from 19 NFL teams had released statements through the NFL Players Association declining to participate in the league's offseason workouts that were scheduled to begin Monday, the Vikings became the 20th team with players who said they won't show up.
Vikings players released a statement Monday saying "many of us have decided to exercise our right not to attend in-person, voluntary workouts" this offseason. The statement cited "the ongoing threat of COVID-19 and the inadequate safety procedures recommended by the NFL" as reasons behind the decision.
The statement added that "the decision was also informed by the dramatic drop in injuries we saw during the 2020 season. We are committed as [a] team to holding each other accountable to ensure everyone is working out and participating in the virtual offseason. We understand that some players will go into the facility for different reasons, but feel strongly, as a unit, about putting our overall health and safety first."
The fate of the league's offseason program has been a topic of discussion between the league and the union over the past several months, after the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out in-person workouts last year and forced players to workout on their own while attending virtual team meetings throughout the spring.
In a letter published on the NFLPA's website this spring, Browns center JC Tretter — the union president — cited a 23% decline in leaguewide injuries during the 2020 season as a reason the NFL didn't need to return to in-person offseason workouts after the pandemic.
The Vikings, like most NFL teams, include workout bonuses in the contracts of many veteran players, paying the annual bonus if players attend 84.375% of the team's offseason activities or meet "other reasonable workout requirements established by the Club during the 2021 offseason."
Language in the Vikings' standard player contract says players must participate in all minicamps and organized team activities and report to training camp on time to earn the bonus, but a league source said Sunday the Vikings had already agreed to let players participate in Phase 1 of the NFL offseason program virtually, working out on their own while receiving credit toward their bonuses by attending online team meetings.
Eight players — Harrison Smith, Danielle Hunter, Adam Thielen, Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, C.J. Ham, Dalvin Tomlinson and Dalvin Cook — have $100,000 workout bonuses for 2021 in their contracts. Linebacker Nick Vigil can earn a $50,000 bonus and offensive lineman Mason Cole has a $31,250 bonus in the deal he signed with the Cardinals.