Bears players announce 'majority' won't participate in voluntary offseason program

The Bears are now the sixth team to have players opt out through the union, citing COVID-19 concerns.

(670 The Score) Players from the Bears on Thursday joined others throughout the NFL in announcing through their union that they'll opt out of voluntary offseason workouts, citing concerns over COVID-19.

The Bears' players joined peers from the Broncos, Buccaneers, Lions, Patriots and Seahawks in revealing their decision. It comes in the wake of NFLPA president JC Tretter advising players to opt out of the offseason workouts, the majority of which are voluntary.

"COVID-19 remains a risk both to our team, our families and to our fellow NFL players," the Bears players' statement said. "We also saw the health and safety benefits of a fully virtual offseason, as injuries across the NFL were down last year. Players remain unclear about the protocols and protections, and rules remain inconsistent despite the last minute communication by the NFL (on Wednesday). It is for these reasons that the majority of our locker room are choosing to exercise our right and not participate in in-person voluntary workouts in order to stay as safe as possible."

The NFL on Wednesday released its plan for the offseason program, which includes nine weeks of virtual meetings, in-person workouts, non-contact on-field work, the traditional OTAs and also a mandatory minicamp in late June. Only the minicamp portion is mandatory, meaning players can choose to not attend for in-person workouts and on-field work.

Amid the pandemic in 2020, the NFL conducted its entire offseason program virtually. Teams didn't hold their first on-field practice until mid-August in training camp.

Though the players' union is encouraging players to opt out of voluntary workouts, around 400 players have already begun work at their team facilities, NFL Media reported.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.