As the 2021 NFL Draft approaches at the end of April, the Minnesota Vikings and the rest of the league continue through their off-season programs. Along with the upcoming draft, teams have also begun off-season workouts and meetings ahead of the 2021 campaign. Or so teams thought, as opt-out decisions have once again altered plans, the Vikings included.
On April 19th, the Vikings players made a formal announcement via the NFL Players Association announcing they will not be taking part in voluntary, in-person workouts which were set to begin that same day. Minnesota’s players cited the ongoing threat of COVID-19 as the primary reason behind their decision.
As some other NFL teams meet and attend voluntary or in-person workouts, let’s dive into whether or not the Vikings electing not to do so could set them back from the rest of the league.
Will Minnesota Vikings Opt-Out of Voluntary Workouts Set Them Back?
Vikings Announce Opt-Out
In the collective statement released by the Vikings players via the NFL Players Association, players noted they came together as a team to make that decision. Minnesota’s players added, “the inadequate safety procedures recommended by the NFL” as another reason behind their opt-out.
According to the announcement, players also said the drop in injuries that took place during the 2020 NFL season following fewer workouts or organized team activities was something they hope continues as a result of opting out of voluntary workouts this off-season.
“We are committed as a team to holding each other accountable to ensure everyone is working out and participating in the virtual off-season,” the statement read. “[We] feel strongly, as a unit, about putting our overall health and safety first.”
At least one Vikings player has come out and addressed the topic to opt-out of off-season workouts, the latest being Minnesota defensive end Stephen Weatherly. According to The Pioneer Press, Weatherly said most of the Vikings players felt strongly about the decision, while others still plan to take part in off-season workouts.
“When it came down to it, this was the best decision we could come up with considering everyone on the team. Everyone has different factors they’ve got to weigh. This was the most uniform statement we had to come up with,” Weatherly told The Pioneer Press.
Will Opt-Out Cause Setback?
Following the opt-out announcement, the question now becomes how the decision will impact Minnesota’s preparation for the upcoming season. Months from now, will this end up setting the Vikings back behind other teams planning on holding workouts? Is this overblown altogether? Odds are the answer is the latter, in that it will not impact the players all that much.
There are two reasons behind this. The first is that the Vikings aren’t the only team to make this decision. They are one of at least 21 NFL teams who have made the decision to pass on off-season workouts. The second reason is the fact that these are ultimately just initial virtual and in-person workouts. These are not the actual training camps or mandatory workouts that are vital to a team’s off-season program.
Yes, players have formally opted out of this initial off-season program. However, Vikings players are still likely working out on their own to prepare for the upcoming year. So, this should not be a huge issue or topic, to begin with.
The Minnesota Vikings made headlines this week when players announced they are putting their safety first and will opt-out of voluntary off-season workouts. It is a decision many teams have made, though remains a controversial one. But it is something that in the grand scheme of things will not hinder their ability to compete in 2021.
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