2021 Offseason Questions: Will There Be OTAs This Year?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion—though the wrong kind of spectacular—in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row, going 1-4 in the final five games, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason that resulted in their early exit.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Will there be OTAs this offseason?

The 2020 calendar was obviously highly abnormal for the NFL. How much closer to the previous norm can they take it this year? That’s the question. Actually, there are two questions…how much normality can they bring back; and how much would they bring back?

Not every change that was made in order to accommodate for safety measures last year was done strictly at an inconvenience. Many, many coaches, owners, players, etc., have talked about some advantages they have learned through the process that they will retain even once we get as close as possible to our previous ‘normal’.

One thing we don’t yet know will survive in the long run is voluntarily offseason training activities, or OTAs. OTAs were conducted virtually last year, and the NFLPA has argued against its continued practice, citing the results that the league got on the field without them last season in demonstrating that they are expendable.

There are obviously arguments in favor and in opposition of eliminating OTAs, but it’s possible that those will come along down the line. Right now, the league still has to decide on whether or not they can safely conduct an in-person activity that is strictly voluntary at this time of year. So whether or not there are OTAs this year will not even be telling as to whether or not they’ll be there next year, and so on.

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