Ravens Opt-out of Offseason Voluntary Workouts
The Ravens announced on Saturday that they would be joining a growing list of NFL teams to opt-out of their offseason voluntary workout programs. The Ravens join the Broncos, 49ers, Rams, Dolphins, Jets, Chargers, Falcons, Steelers, Raiders, Giants, Browns, Patriots, Lions, Saints, Seahawks, and reigning Super Bowls champion, Buccaneers.
Baltimore Ravens players released a statement through the NFLPA regarding their decision.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh was very vocal about the need for there to be an offseason program siding with players getting into a rhythm with each other and carrying that through into the season, in order to play at a high level.
“I guess; I think it’s really easy for offensive linemen who have been in the league for 10 years or 12 years to say we don’t need OTAs [organized team activities], because they don’t do anything anyway, really,” Harbaugh said. “Those guys don’t. They don’t need it. But the young guys, the young linemen, they need it. And the passing game, it needs it a lot. You need your quarterback and your wide receivers and your tight ends running routes – all the things that we talked about. It’s fine to go get together at some high school field somewhere, and they’ll do that, but to come in here, and to get the timing.” Harbaugh said at his January 20th presser.
The list of teams opting out is expected to grow during the coming week as players and coaches err on the side of caution in the face of the continued coronavirus pandemic.
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has made it known that he and the union are on the side of the players telling SportCenter on Saturday, “it is in the best interest of players to not participate in voluntary offseason workouts.” Smith and several teams, through their press released statements, have not only said that safety is the cause for canceling voluntary workouts. But the increase in last seasons on-field production as a contributing factor for the decision.
Approximately 200 players have incentive money attached to their contracts for attending offseason programs. Therefore, this leaves some players with a tough decision to attend these programs or opt-out.
“I think it’s important for players to make their own decisions, not only as professionals, not only as a way of taking ownership of their own health care, but making their own decision as a man,” Smith said.
Voluntary offseason programs have long been a topic of discussion among players, specifically veteran players, as “pointless” and an “increased injury risk.” Many veterans from teams across the league for years have decided to not take part in their respective teams voluntary offseason programs choosing instead to continue to workout on their own.
Voluntary workouts are often attended mostly by the incoming rookie class, second and third year players, and younger players picked up in the offseason. This allows players to learn their teams systems before the start of mini camp, OTA’s, and subsequently training camp.
With decisions to come on the remainder of the offseason in regards to training camp and pre-season games, coaches and players will look to adapt with limited practice times and continued virtual meetings likely to be continued into the 2021 season.