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NFL to open virtual offseason program on April 20

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Browns will be among five teams who will get an extra veteran minicamp.

NFL: Cleveland Browns-OTA Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski will finally be able to start working with his new team on April 20.

That is the date that NFL teams will begin three weeks of a virtual offseason program, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero:

In addition to the voluntary offseason program, the Browns are one of five teams with new head coaches that will be allowed to hold a voluntary veteran minicamp at the end of the offseason programs.

All teams must wrap up the offseason programs by May 15 and no on-field work will be allowed until all 32 teams can reopen their training facilities.

The new rules, which were approved by the NFL and the NFLPA on Monday, are in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which has kept the league’s normal offseason program on hold for weeks.

According to NFL.com’s Nick Shook, there offseason program will follow the following guidelines:

The virtual period will consist of three consecutive weeks of classroom instruction, workouts and non-football educational programs using videoconferencing technology. An extra voluntary veteran camp will be available for new coaches, with the virtual period ending no later than May 15.

Teams are permitted to send players workout equipment and monitoring devices — e.g. kettlebells, resistance bands, Apple watches, etc. — provided the cost for any individual player doesn’t exceed $1,500.

If club facilities do not reopen during the offseason program, the window for which concludes June 26, there will be a secondary option for teams. Organizations can conduct a mandatory veteran minicamp on a virtual basis, with limits of two hours of classroom time and two hours of workout time.

If team facilities remain closed into June, the agreement allows teams to hold mandatory veteran minicamps under the following conditions, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano:

If team facilities remain closed in June, teams will be allowed to conduct mandatory minicamps for veterans, “provided that (i) any online classroom instruction may not exceed two hours; (ii) any virtual workouts may not exceed two hours; and (iii) the Club may schedule the times for these activities as it chooses.”

If for some reason a team decides not to hold a virtual offseason program, it will not be permitted to save that time to use after May 15, according to ESPN. However, every team is provided six weeks in total of offseason workouts after May 15.

The situation is certainly not what Stefanski envisioned for his first season in charge of the Browns, but at this point any workout time is better than nothing.