As NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Wednesday, the NFL informed all teams that they may begin the first phase of their offseason programs on April 19.
Though the specifics of what offseason programs will look like has yet to be determined, it certainly appears that in-person workouts will once again be in the cards after the offseason program was entirely virtual in 2020.
"While the parties are still discussing possible adjustments to the meeting and on-field work rules and related COVID-19 Protocols, clubs should be prepared to conduct meetings virtually, at least during the early phase of the program," the NFL Management Council, Football Operations and Player Health & Safety departments wrote in a memo. "As was expressed during [Tuesday's] meeting, we do not anticipate a duplication of last season's virtual program."
Teams will still have to comply with certain requirements, including updating their infectious disease response plan and daily testing for players and staff.
With COVID-19 vaccinations becoming available for the general public in many states — including Colorado beginning on April 2 — the NFL outlined some initial planning based on that info.
Though vaccination won't be mandatory for players, the memo stated that the league expects to change their COVID-19 protocols to ease restrictions on players or staff who have been vaccinated, "such as the need for daily testing, quarantine periods due to close contact with an infected individual and/or refraining from social gatherings among other vaccinated individuals."
In-person workouts should be a welcome returning feature for the Broncos. Last season, with a second-year quarterback leading an offense featuring several rookie contributors or free-agent additions — all while installing a new offensive system — Broncos players and coaches weren't able to get on the field together until training camp. Though the Broncos won't face that kind of undertaking this year, in-person training would be valuable for the entire team to get on the same page months before the regular season.
"We'll be better off and prepared for it," Head Coach Vic Fangio said on March 4 of the chances that teams may have to continue to operate under COVID-19 protocols. "Hopefully that won't be the case. Hopefully we'll have some on-the-field work and some in-person meetings. Zoom is a great thing and it's a [medium] that is here. It will be here to stay and can be utilized in the right way. Still, in-person and on-the-field stuff is invaluable and much, much better."
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But wait, there's more! NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the league envisions having stadiums back to full capacity in 2021 as the country increases its vaccination efforts. "Thanks to ramped up vaccination efforts across the nation," Nick Shook wrote for NFL.com, "the hope is the football world can return to life as it knew it before the pandemic by the time kickoff weekend arrives."