Last season, there were no OTAs or mincamps for NFL teams. This was a response to the COVID pandemic. Sadly, that is not over. But with vaccines now available for all adults and different areas of the country dropping restrictions, the league has decided to conduct offseason activities, with some precautions and restrictions in place. However, the NFLPA believes that a virtual offseason is not only safer in regards to the pandemic, they think it significantly reduces other injuries. As a result, they called for a boycott of all voluntary in-person offseason activities this year.
So far, the players for nineteen teams have decided to either fully participate in the boycott, or on an individual basis with expressions of support for the boycott. This from the reigning Super Bowl champions is an example of what has been put out by the NFLPA.
One roster that has not released a statement of support for the boycott is the Dallas Cowboys. And before the NFLPA called for its players to sit out all voluntary activities, many members of the team were already working in the team’s facilities at The Star.
The #Broncos have had 22 players work out at the facility this offseason, second only to the #Cowboys with 25, per source. A dozen teams have had 15 or more. So, while the NFLPA and players emphasize safety issues of returning to facilities, many are already there.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 13, 2021
Today (Monday) is the scheduled start of league-wide offseason activities, and it appears that the Cowboys are still showing up.
Cowboys players are at the Star today for offseason program. They were never expected to participate in the NFLPA-led boycott of in person workouts
— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) April 19, 2021
Without any actual explanation from the players, we don’t know exactly why they are not joining the boycott or at least offering support for those who do. One reason may be purely financial.
Teams with the most players with workout bonuses
Wash., Cowboys and Texans have a lot of base salaries tied to workout participation. Id guess every vet
— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) April 13, 2021
That does appear to mean that most of the Cowboys would take a hit to the pocketbook if they did not participate in workouts. But there may be other reasons as well.
One is that the veterans must have been badly disappointed in what happened last year. The lack of OTAs and in-person meetings to install the new defense is thought to have played a part. That is a motivation for the team to put in the effort to try and get back to the playoffs. And you can add in the competitive advantage they might gain from fully participating while others don’t.
The leadership of Dak Prescott is probably another element. He did, after all, build a football field in his backyard to be able to get in extra work, with some of his teammates joining him. He is rehabbing from his terrible injury, and showing up at The Star probably seems very beneficial to him. If QB1 is there, you can expect most of the rest of the team to join him.
That facility in Frisco is an additional factor. It is spacious, and may allow more social distancing than those of many other franchises. This may add a level of comfort for the players concerning their health and safety.
It appears that the Cowboys are not alone in deciding not to join the boycott. It will be interesting to see which other teams join them in sticking to the offseason schedule and format. Some teams that are boycotting might rethink their position if they believe their rivals are getting some advantage from showing up.
Of course, something could change the attitudes in Dallas. This is going to be something to watch over the next few weeks, especially when OTA practices are set to begin on May 24th.