The NFL announced the offseason workout program dates for all 32 teams on Thursday and next up for the Pittsburgh Steelers will be the team’s rookie minicamp.
According to the NFL, the Steelers will host rookie minicamp from May 14-16, OTA offseason workouts from May 25-27, June 2-4 and June 14-17, and a mandatory minicamp from June 8-10. All those offseason phases were held virtually in 2020 due the pandemic. This year, the league and teams are planning on returning to in-person instruction this spring, but with some notable modifications.
Below is part of the memo the NFL released on Thursday regarding the 2021 offseason workout program schedule.
As per Article 21 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the voluntary nine-week offseason program is conducted in three phases. In 2021:
Phase One (April 19-May 14) has been extended from its customary two-week period to four weeks, with activities limited to strength and conditioning, virtual meetings, and physical rehabilitation only.
Phase Two (May 17-21) has been shortened from three weeks to one week. On-field workouts may include individual player instruction and drills, “perfect play” drills, drills and plays conducted with offensive players lining up across from offensive players and defensive players lining up across from defensive players, with each group permitted to align eleven or fewer players across from eleven or fewer players. Players on one side of the ball may execute a play, but players on the opposite side of the ball may not initiate contact with, or attempt to impede the progress of, players who are running the play. All such drills must be conducted at an acceptable walkthrough pace (i.e. Pro Bowl practice).
Phase Three (May 24-June 18) remains its customary four weeks in length. Beginning in Phase Three, clubs may conduct in-person meetings and classroom instruction subject to COVID-19 testing cadence, tracking, facility access and other protocols. During Phase Three, teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity, or “OTAs”. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.
Article 22 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that clubs may hold one mandatory minicamp for veteran players. This minicamp, noted below, must occur during Phase Three of the offseason program.
Each club may hold a rookie football development program for a period of seven weeks, which in 2021 may begin on May 17. During this period, no activities may be held on weekends, with the exception of one post-NFL Draft rookie minicamp, which may be conducted on either the first or second weekend following the draft.
It will now be interesting to see what kind of in-person attendance there will be league-wide moving into the offseason, as the NFLPA has been pushing for all players to boycott anything session that is not mandatory. The NFLPA wants everything to be done virtually during the offseason just as it was done last offseason, as they believe it will help reduce injuries to players.
Steelers players have already pledged to boycott offseason workouts not deemed mandatory in nature.