CLEVELAND — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from a previous story.
Last month, the Cleveland Browns' players released a statement announcing that they would not attend voluntary in-person organized team activities (OTAs) due to concerns regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19).
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But as the start of OTAs nears, it appears those plans may change.
In this week's Monday Morning Quarterback column, Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer reported that the Browns players and coaches are negotiating terms for players to attend OTAs in-person instead of virtually. Per a league release, Cleveland's voluntary OTAs are scheduled to take place May 25-27, June 1-3 and June 7-10, with the Browns' mandatory minicamp taking place June 15-17.
"The Browns’ players were working toward a deal with their coaches over the weekend after staying away—and part of the reason they were O.K. with being absent until now is that quarterback Baker Mayfield had held a passing camp in Austin already," Breer wrote on Monday.
In their statement released last month, the Browns players said that they believed the NFL's guidelines for this year's voluntary OTAs fell short of what they believed was acceptable amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Last year, the NFL offseason was held virtually until training camp as a result of the pandemic.
"The NFL's memo outlining how they plan to implement voluntary workouts falls short of what we as players believe is adequate. The Cleveland Browns players agree that a virtual offseason, like we had last year, is the best decision for everyone in our league," the statement from the Browns players read.
"COVID-19 continues to affect our players, our families and our communities, and we must continue to take it seriously. In addition to the ongoing threat of the pandemic, we felt healthier both mentally and physically last year, which we attribute to sufficient recovery time and the lack of additional wear and tear on our bodies during the spring months. The league-wide injury data supports us as well, as NFL players experienced a 23% reduction in missed-time injuries last season.
"For these reasons, we stand in solidarity with players from other clubs by exercising our CBA right to not attend in-person voluntary workouts this offseason. We are professionals who train year-round, wherever we spend our offseason. As we proved last year, we will be ready to compete this upcoming season."
In addition to the Browns, players from at least 20 other teams announced their intentions to not attend voluntary OTAs this year, although some have since reversed course.