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NFL announces tweaks for 2021 OTAs & offseason program, but on-field work remains

It does not address all of what the NFLPA asked for, but there are at least some concessions for virtual meetings.

NFL: MAY 31 Packers OTA Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Over the past few days, the players for several NFL teams announced joint boycotts of offseason workouts. Players for the Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers expressed their desire to move to a fully-virtual offseason program by declaring that they would be skipping any in-person voluntary workouts over the next few months.

Additionally, the NFL Players Association recently expressed a desire to keep the offseason program fully virtual, as it was during the 2020 offseason in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Wednesday, the NFL announced some concessions to that program, which includes OTAs.

In a memo to its teams, the NFL announced a revised offseason schedule, adjusting the time frames for the various phases of the program and implementing additional virtual meetings and sessions in place of some of the normal in-person meetings:

Ultimately, some of these rules are notable changes from years past, while others remain effectively the same as in pre-2020 seasons. Here is a breakdown of how these phases differ from typical offseason programs:

Phase 1

  • Changed from 2 weeks to 4 weeks (runs April 19 to May 14)
  • All meetings will be virtual
  • No on-field work allowed
  • Teams to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations for all players, staff, and families

Phase 2

  • Changed from 3 weeks to 1 week (runs May 17 to May 21)
  • All meetings will be virtual
  • On-field drills are allowed with no contact and at a walkthrough speed; however, offense and defense cannot line up opposite each other.
  • Starting with Phase 2, the league will resume the same COVID-19 safety policies that were implemented in team facilities during the 2020 regular season.

Phase 3

  • No changes to length of time or dates (remains May 24 to June 18)
  • Teams may hold in-person or virtual meetings
  • OTAs and mandatory minicamp will be allowed as usual

One other notable item is that teams will be allowed to once again hold a rookie minicamp. That event will take place on one of the two weekends immediately following the 2021 NFL Draft, meaning it can take place from May 7-10 or May 14-16.

In years past, the Packers have typically opened up some OTA practices and most of the mandatory minicamp practices to fans. Stay tuned for updates from the team on whether or not that will be the case in 2021 and for any updates on whether the team will scale back the 2021 program beyond the guidelines expressed by the NFL in today’s communications.