End of NFL OTAs? Why NFLPA Reportedly Proposing Major Changes to Offseason Schedule

The NFL Players Association reportedly is preparing a proposal that could lead to significant changes to NFL OTAs and offseason schedules.

The NFL offseason could look and flow much differently a year from now.

According to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero, the NFL Players Association is finalizing a proposal that would radically change NFL OTAs and the overall offseason timeline. The changes, which could go into effect as early as 2025, have widespread support among players.

What To Know About Potential NFL OTAs Changes

The NFL’s current nine-week offseason format operates in three phases and lasts from early April to mid-June. The first two phases largely consist of strength and conditioning work and limited on-field drills. No offense vs. defense or 1-on-1 drills are permitted.

OTAs — organized team activities — are a series of voluntary, non-padded practices that begin during Phase 3 and last from mid-May to early June. Mandatory three-day minicamps typically take place after the final OTAs, but some teams conduct the practices before the final week of activities. Players then go on summer break sometime in mid-June before reporting for training camp in late July.

Now, let’s get into the proposed changes.

Per Pelissero, the NFLPA wants to eliminate voluntary on-field work during the spring in favor of “a longer training camp ramp-up.” Players would report to team facilities in mid-June to early July, rather than late July.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether all offseason sessions would be pushed to after the spring or just OTAs and other work that requires being on the field. Pelissero noted a formal proposal is expected sometime this summer.

While the phrase “OTAs” could disappear, the spirit and goal of the sessions would live on, just later in the summer.

“Basically, the idea here would be to roll an extended, OTA-style ramp-up — strength and conditioning, non-padded work, etc. — straight into training camp without a six-week break/de-escalation in between. A major change,” Pelissero wrote on the X platform.

Why Do NFL Players Want These Changes?

It’s all about safety.

“Under new leadership, the NFLPA has consulted medical and performance experts in hopes of creating a common-sense solution for reducing injuries and maximizing players’ recovery time,” Pelissero wrote. “Virtual classroom work would still be permitted in the spring. But no practice until camp.”

In a separate story, NFL Media’s Kevin Patra added: “Restructuring the NFL’s offseason could help break up the calendar, giving players a deeper layoff following a grinding season and a longer ramp-up period before the start of the season, which could prove helpful to avoid soft-tissue injuries that plague some players during training camps under the current structure.”

How the NFL feels about this proposal remains unclear. Does it prefer the current offseason schedule, which results in minimal dead time, or would it embrace what would effectively be a longer and busier training camp and preseason?

Either way, offseason work rules are collectively bargained, so the NFL and NFLPA would need to rework sections of the CBA. In theory, such negotiations could produce other notable changes.

Could This Lead to an 18th Game?

The NFL wants an 18th regular-season game.

“I’m not a fan of the preseason, and I’d replace a preseason game with a regular-season game any day,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in April.

NFL owners have yet to propose an 18-game regular season, but such discussions are expected to occur in the near future.

“I strongly believe they will bring something to [the NFLPA] in the next 12 to 18 months,” a union source told The Washington Post’s Mark Maske in April.

So, could the NFLPA’s proposed offseason overhaul be the first step toward an 18th game?

“The NFLPA push for a revised offseason isn’t directly tied to an 18-game season,” Pelissero wrote on X. “However, it’s worth noting a longer schedule would further shorten the time between the season and training camp — another reason consolidating players’ time off into one long break would make sense.”

Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel offered his two cents while meeting with reporters Tuesday morning.

“I can understand the (questions),” McDaniel said. “Apparently we might be on deck to have the longest season of all time, with that, if you don’t adjust your schedule. So, we obviously will if that comes to fruition. But it doesn’t really bother me either way. Whatever the rules are, you just have to be very mindful and intentional with what you’re doing within those rules.”

KEEP READING: Top Summer Extension Candidate for Every NFL Team

It could be easy to overlook this storyline, especially with potential restructuring at least a year away. But make no mistake: Major revisions to NFL OTAs would be a big deal and could lead to even larger changes around the league.

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