But unlike the rest of the teams, New England’s statement was not a unilateral declaration.
The Patriots’ players said “many of us” will not attend the voluntary in-person offseason program, believing it to be the safest course of action during with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“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 to not attend voluntary workouts this offseason,” the statement reads. “The NFL has yet to agree to the full details of a plan for players despite the fact we are a few short days away from the start of voluntary workouts. 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 workout on our own. While we understand that some players will need to go for various reasons and some safety measures have been put in place, we also know that NFL players have a choice which our union bargained for.
“We saw the health and safety benefits that a fully virtual offseason had on our fellow players last year. As experienced professionals who love the game, we know how to prepare our minds and bodies for an NFL season and look forward to working hard in pursuit of a Super Bowl this upcoming season.”
The statement from New England’s players is the most explicit in stating that some individuals may be at the team facility either for treatment or other instruction. And in nothing themselves as “experienced professionals,” the players are at least tacitly acknowledging there might be a difference for the incoming draft picks and undrafted rookies who will be acquired in the next few weeks.