Casual fans hear the term all the time, but few know the answer. What are OTAs in the NFL?
Every year, we hear analysts talk about how players are performing in OTAs. Unfortunately, many fans hear the term and don’t fully understand its meaning. It’s alright. Not many people outside of football do.
OTAs stands for Organized Team Activities, which is a ten-day period shortly after the NFL Draft. Oftentimes it’s also referred to as “Phase three” from the collective bargaining agreement. We will get into that in a moment.
It’s time allotted for teams to conduct classroom education, practice schemes and strategies, and start to build chemistry. No live contact is permitted, but teams can work out 7-on-7’s as well as 11-on-11’s. However, it’s not mandatory for players to attend, as it is a voluntary phase of the offseason.
Teams generally begin this cycle in late May and strongly encourage young players to attend the sessions. The media generally takes narratives from these practices and tries to create a story that is normally not true.
What is the primary focus of the OTAs period?
NFL clubs are primarily focused on the install. Install is the basic philosophy and concepts that the team plans to run in the upcoming season. The OTAs are the first opportunity for the rookies and the new additions to take the field and practice.
The OTAs are the “third period” named in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Let’s talk about this for a moment.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement names three periods in which the voluntary nine-week offseason program runs on;
Phase one is a four-week period limiting players to virtual meetings, strength and conditioning work, and rehabilitation.
Phase two is a one-week period where teams practice at a walkthrough pace while not getting into much schematic work. Instead, they focus on individual player drills and may lineup for plays, but defenders may not impede the offensive players as they run through a play.
Phase three is the OTAs.