The Tampa Bay Buccaneers became one of the 17 NFL teams to opt out of the voluntary, in-person portions of the offseason program last week. The organization's players echoed the sentiments of many others around the league, citing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, while also recognizing that they were able to have success last summer without in-person programs.
“... We know that our union worked to negotiate safety protocols, but in light of the ongoing pandemic, we are choosing to take a stand with other players across the league and exercise our right to not participate in the voluntary offseason program," the NFL Player's Association said in a statement on behalf of the Buccaneers. "We had a fully virtual offseason last year, and we held each other accountable to do the work it took to win and we plan to do that again.”
Bucs' head coach Bruce Arians was given his first opportunity to address the team's decision during a media session on Monday afternoon. He said that opting out doesn't "bother him at all" as the team wasn't planning to meet in-person until much later this spring.
“I can’t wait to get on the field with them and it’s not time yet,” Arians said,
Bucs coach Bruce Arians says his players opting out of the off-season workout program “doesn’t bother me at all,” since most of the meetings are virtual until the middle of May. pic.twitter.com/FPAf1Wweu3
— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) April 19, 2021
">per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “The opting out thing doesn’t bother me at all. We were going to be virtual until the middle of May anyway. Get it going, get it started back in your brain.”
Arians can rest easy knowing that his Super Bowl LV winning team will return most of its key contributors next year. Still, he said that the Buccaneers will “have to start back at the bottom and get our fundamentals and get everything going" before mounting a title defense in 2021.