By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — “Many” players on the New England Patriots are joining a union-backed movement across the NFL and will boycott the optional organized team activities (OTAs).

The NFLPA shared the statement from Patriots players on Wednesday:

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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 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 work out 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.

Players on the Seahawks, Buccaneers, Lions and Broncos already announced that they would not be attending voluntary OTAs this season. Earlier this month, the NFLPA urged players to boycott the voluntary sessions.

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OTA sessions have technically been “voluntary” in the NFL, but they’ve essentially become mandatory parts of the offseason for players over the years.

NFLPA president J.C. Tretter urged all members of the players’ union to not attend OTAs this spring. According to Cleveland.com, the union reportedly wants to “avoid COVID-19 tests and quarantining during OTAs,” while also wanting “the freedom to move and travel without restrictions, and to make it to the finish line healthy again.”

“I think the data overwhelmingly shows that perhaps the most dangerous place to be if you’re a veteran player is in an offseason program,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said earlier this month.

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The Boston Globe noted that 14 players have been going to Gillette Stadium for workouts and rehab this offseason. The statement’s use of the words “many of us” opened the door for those players — and other players who disagree with the boycott — to attend the OTAs if desired and continue to receive treatment.

CBSBoston.com Staff