NFL OTAs 2021: Start date for NFL offseason program

The 2021 NFL offseason and OTA schedule have been announced in a memo sent to teams. Coaches and players conducted the 2020 offseason virtually, but the NFL has made attempts to reintroduce in-person aspects into the program. Organized team activities (OTAs) provide the first opportunity for the roster to practice together ahead of the season.

When does the NFL OTA and offseason program start in 2021?

The 2021 NFL OTA and offseason program starts on April 19 and finishes on June 18. It will be nine weeks in length.

The offseason will be split into three phases:

  • First phase – April 19 to May 14 (four weeks)
  • Second phase – May 17 to May 21 (one week)
  • Third phase – May 24 to June 18 (four weeks)

On-field work is not permitted until the second phase, which begins on May 17. Traditional OTAs will take place during the third phase of the offseason and will be 10 days.

Teams will be expected to comply with recommendations on weight room capacity and limit the number of people in their facility. Furthermore, there will also be testing protocols in place to reduce the risk where possible.

When are rookie minicamps?

Rookie minicamps can be held on either the first or second weekend following the 2021 NFL Draft. They are three days long. Given the number of players who opted out of the 2020 college football season, the 2021 NFL offseason could be more important than ever. Some rookies will be in a team environment for the first time since the 2019 season.

When are the 2021 NFL OTA and mandatory veteran minicamps?

The mandatory veteran minicamps will take place during phase three of the offseason. The third phase begins on May 24 and ends on June 18.

Do players have to take part in offseason activities?

No. Except for the mandatory minicamp, the offseason program is voluntary.

Per Tom Pelissero, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) didn’t agree to the plan and had been pushing for an all-virtual offseason. The disagreement between the NFL and NFLPA has led to the NFLPA urging players to boycott all voluntary activities. There are already many teams that have been informed that their players will not be attending the optional workouts. Per the terms of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), however, the NFL can proceed with its plans without agreement. The league can decide on the 2021 NFL OTA schedule and offseason program unilaterally without the NFLPA’s consent.

The NFLPA released a statement on behalf of the Pittsburgh Steelers, referencing the success of the 2020 approach. “A virtual offseason helped keep us safe to not only start but finish the regular season as safely as possible and it makes no sense for us to risk infection or injury in the spring if we don’t have to. The protections we had in place last year are not fully in place now and remain unclear.”

Per ProFootballTalk, the NFLPA isn’t pushing for every team to skip voluntary workouts, however. The Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Kansas City Chiefs are among the teams likely to participate. Those four teams have a significant number of players with workout bonuses in their contracts. Skipping parts of the offseason would limit their earning potential, and that is something that the NFLPA is keen to avoid.

Which teams have been informed that players won’t be participating?

The following teams have currently been informed that players won’t be participating in the voluntary elements of the offseason:

  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Chicago Bears
  • Cleveland Browns
  • Denver Broncos
  • Detroit Lions
  • Las Vegas Raiders
  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • Los Angeles Rams
  • Miami Dolphins
  • New England Patriots
  • New York Giants
  • New York Jets
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It’s important to note that these statements aren’t definitive and won’t necessarily apply to every player. Individuals are free to make their own decisions, and these teams may have players attending the team facility who wish to take part.

We will update this list if more teams give updates. The NFLPA is also releasing statements via its Twitter account.

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