Under traditional NFL rules, a team like the Dallas Cowboys, who recently hired Mike McCarthy as their new head coach, would be allowed to start their voluntary offseason program a week earlier than other teams.
That will continue to be the case this month, though the programs will look considerably different this time around.
Due to the spread of COVID-19 and the resulting restrictions, the NFL and the NFL Player's Association have consulted with medical professionals and have come to an agreement on how to proceed by implementing what is being called a "Virtual Period" of April 20-May 15 according to multiple reports, including NFL.com.
Because McCarthy is entering his first season with the Cowboys, Dallas and other teams with first-year coaches will be allowed to begin their voluntary workouts on April 20, while the rest will have to wait until April 27.
The Cowboys, and all other teams who have a newly hired head coach, were allowed to send playbooks to their players last week but had to hold off on any official offseason programs until a plan was put in place.
Voluntary player workouts or classroom instructions that would normally take place at team facilities will now be replaced with "virtual" workouts and online classroom instructions until at least May 15. Teams will be able to be in contact with their players to assure that they have the necessary equipment to participate in such workouts. These activities are voluntary for players, but if they choose to participate they may be asked whether they are willing to use monitoring devices to certify that they have completed the activities and thus can be compensated.
The league will be able to reassess the process after May 15. If team facilities are still off-limits in June then teams will be allowed to conduct mandatory virtual mini-camps for veterans. In such a scenario by rule, online classroom instructions must not exceed two hours, virtual workouts must not exceed two hours, and the team may schedule their own times for such activities. No offseason programs can continue past June 26, and if one team facility is forced to remain closed for safety reasons then all 32 team facilities will also remain closed.