NFLPA: Giants players to exercise CBA right, won’t show for voluntary offseason workouts

The Giants’ players released a statement through their union on Thursday to announce that many of them will not be attending in-person voluntary workouts this offseason.

“Our team is a strong, unified brotherhood of professionals who love the game of football and work year-round to perfect our craft,” the statement posted on the NFL Players Association’s social media platforms read. “We also have to make the best decisions to protect our health and safety, which is why players on our team are exercising our CBA right to not attend in-person voluntary workouts.

“We stand in solidarity with players across our league who are making informed decisions with the help of our union,” the statement continued, “both in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and what the data shows about the benefits to our overall health and safety.”

The Giants became the eighth team to release a statement in favor of a fully virtual offseason. They were the third to do so on Thursday, joining the Cleveland Browns and the Chicago Bears.

These NFLPA statements do not speak for every player on every team, but they do speak for the majority of the players on a team, union sources told the Daily News.

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The Giants organization had no comment when reached on Thursday afternoon. It is unknown how many players plan to report to the facility on Monday, the scheduled start of offseason programs around the league.

Player sources did tell the News on Wednesday that some Giants players still plan to report to the start of Phase 2 work in mid-May, when on-field work begins, though they’ll stay home for now.

NFL players with workout bonuses have the most incentive to report to team facilities in order to fulfill their obligation for that extra money. Some won’t show up anyway, but there is more incentive for that group.

On the Giants, the three highest workout bonuses belong to Blake Martinez, James Bradberry and Dante Pettis at $100,000 apiece. Bradberry and Martinez are well-paid starters with places on the roster, so they might better afford not earning that workout bonus — whereas Pettis has more to lose with a lower salary and no guaranteed roster spot.

There hadn’t been a coordinated Giants player discussion on this topic as of Wednesday afternoon, sources said, but offensive tackle Nate Solder is the Giants’ player rep tabbed to represent the group and its consensus.

The players’ union is continuing to pressure the NFL on this issue even though the league announced a revised offseason schedule on Wednesday that pushed back the start of any on-field work from Monday to May 17.

That was the league’s effort to strike a compromise. The NFL didn’t have to change the offseason work rules at all, per terms of the collective bargaining agreement that the union agreed to last year.

But in a separate Wednesday memo, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and president JC Tretter told players that the league’s new schedule wasn’t a solution at all.

“Men, the NFL’s announcement does not address any of the concerns raised by the players,” the memo said.

The union is keeping pressure on the league to maintain the fully virtual offseason format of 2020, citing both COVID-19 and player injury data connected to workload.

“It is our recommendation that due to the injury data, continued threat of COVID-19 and the lack of a comprehensive plan to protect players, that the safest decision would be to not attend any in-person club organized activities at your club,” Smith and Tretter wrote to players.

Claiming players’ bodies need the rest is certainly hypocritical in the context of the NFLPA ratifying the expansion of the regular season to 17 games.

But it’s also a reality that with COVID-19 still prevalent, a majority of veterans see no point to return to facilities right now, and many players don’t want to leave their families when they can simply work out at home.

Several NFL veterans have told the Daily News that even players with workout bonuses, which can only be earned at the facilities, may forgo the extra money for safety purposes.

That will depend on the player, though, and his individual situation.

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The Giants players’ statement is interesting also in the context of co-owner John Mara’s influence in the league.

Mara is chairman of the management council’s executive committee who co-authored a memo earlier this week that ramped up the NFL’s vaccine requirements for staffers who will be working with players.

Every NFL team will make vaccines available to players and eligible families, as well. This is being done to ensure the players’ safety and to remind them that in the NFL’s opinion, there is nowhere safer than their team facilities.

The Giants, in fact, helped lead the way in setting an example earlier this week. The Daily News reported that according to a source, the Giants have made arrangements through Hackensack Meridian Health Systems to start vaccinating staff who have not already been vaccinated for COVID-19. That opportunity will be available to the players, as well.

But the NFLPA’s Smith and Tretter revealed earlier this week in memos to players that “a number of players recently tested positive (for COVID-19) at team facilities” and that “NFL players who contracted COVID last season can become infected again.”

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