Jaguars voluntary offseason program will be virtual-only for first 4 weeks
The Jaguars received the go-ahead from the NFL to begin the first phase of their offseason program this upcoming Monday, but it will be virtual-only.
In a memo sent to teams, which was released by NFL media on Wednesday, the first phase of work will extend for four weeks.
Jaguars coach Urban Meyer won't be able to put his team through team drills on the field for the first time until May 17, which will also be the start of rookie minicamp in which presumptive No. 1 overall pick quarterback Trevor Lawrence will get his first extended work with his new teammates.
Unlike last season when COVID-19 protocols were in place, the NFL will have a normal Phase three of the offseason program that will consist of 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills in OTAs starting on May 24-June 18 and concluding with a mandatory minicamp. Last season, the entire offseason program was virtual only.
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The Jaguars, like the rest of the league's 31 teams, were waiting to hear from the league whether phase one of the NFL's voluntary offseason would go forth as planned after players from five teams - Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccanneers, Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos and New England Patriots - announced they plan to boycott the workouts because of COVID-19 concerns.
''In solidarity with other players across the NFL and in the interest of our health and safety, many of us at the New England Patriots will be exercising our right not to attend voluntary workouts this season,'' the Patriots said in a statement issued through the NFLPA. ''The threat of COVID-19 is still serious in our community and across the country, and we think it is safer for everyone if we choose to work out on our own.''
Several Jaguars players have been at the team's facility at TIAA Bank this off-season to familiarize themselves with Urban Meyer and his staff. According to OverTheCap.com, the Jaguars have the second-most players (24) in the NFL with offseason workout bonuses totaling $3.7 million.
The Buffalo Bills lead the league with 28 players with their bonuses totaling $3.1 million. The Green Bay Packers have 19 players with offseason workout bonuses totalling a league-leading $5 million.
Earlier Wednesday before the league issued their offseason plans, NFL Media's Tom Pelissero's reported that discussions had continued between the NFL and NFLPA on the specifics of how the offseason program would be conducted.
The NFLPA wants an all-virtual offseason program like last year and has urged players to boycott if the league does not mandate it.
In a memo sent to teams on March 31, the NFL indicated that teams should be prepared to conduct meetings virtually, at least during the early phase of the program. However, the NFL wrote that it does not anticipate a duplication of last season's virtual workout program.
The memo also stated that teams should have a sufficient supply of COVID-19 testing supplies and that protocols will be amended in the coming months to eliminate several significant restrictions for vaccinated individuals.
In its memo to teams Wednesday, the league indicated that daily COVID-19 testing would continue for those not vaccinated. Also, COVID-19 vaccinations won't be a requirement for players, but according to NFL Media, the league informed teams that any team employee who refuses a COVID-19 vaccination would be barred from Tier 1 or Tier 2 status, thus having restricted access within the team facility.
In a statement, the Jaguars said the franchise has provided employees educational resources about COVID-19 vaccinations and alerted staff to changes in vaccine eligibility for several months. As Florida's eligibility for vaccinations expanded, employees and their families have begun receiving vaccinations with scheduling assistance through the team's wellness program affiliated with Baptist Health.