Teams around the NFL are shifting gears now that the 2013 draft is complete. Offseason workouts and OTAs (organized team activities) are now the focus of every club, as coaches are eager to get a jump-start on the upcoming season.
The recent changes to OTAs...
First and foremost, the new CBA cut these offseason workouts from 14 weeks down to nine (10 for teams with new head coaches), which occur in three phases.
Teams are only allowed to hold one mandatory minicamp for veterans, and the players are not allowed to engage in any contact during these practices.
Another big change in this new agreement is that the league is much more inclined to fine teams for breaking any rules, as Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks found out the hard way last year.
This year, teams are kicking off their offseason workouts in late May, and the final activities will conclude in the middle of June. Here's a full schedule, courtesy of NFL.com.
Phase One (Two Weeks)
The first two weeks of team offseason workouts is strictly for strength and conditioning purposes.
The only coaches allowed to engage the players in these workouts are full-time strength and conditioning coaches. Other coaches are not allowed on the field and cannot participate in or observe these activities.
No footballs are allowed to be used except in "dead ball" activities, but quarterbacks are allowed to throw to receivers, provided nobody is covering them.
Helmets are forbidden.
Phase Two (Three Weeks)
After being handcuffed for the first two weeks of these offseason workouts, coaches are allowed on the field in Phase Two.
Acceptable workouts during this period of time are limited to "individual player instruction and drills," including "perfect play" drills, which are team drills, but the offense and defense cannot play against each other.
Special teams drills are also permitted, but never with any opposition. In other words, the kicking team can practice, but not against the return team, and vice versa.
As it was in Phase One, helmets are not permitted, nor is any contact.
Phase Three (Four Weeks)
This final four-week period of offseason workouts includes the team's mandatory minicamp and can include a total of 10 days of organized team workouts.
During the first two weeks, teams are allowed a maximum of three workout days per week, and during the final two weeks, teams cannot hold more than four per week.
Just as it was in Phase Two, all coaches are allowed on the field and teams are forbidden from any contact. One-on-one drills are also still off the menu.
Kick and return teams are allowed to practice against one another, provided there is no contact.
Team offense vs. defense drills are also permitted, provided no live contact occurs, and teams may require players to wear helmets, though no shells or pads are permitted.
For every day a player participates in team offseason workouts, he will be paid $175 (Article 21, Section 3). That said, a player must participate in at least three workout days per week to qualify for payment.
Any player under contract with a team will be invited to these workouts.
Players not under contract who are invited to workouts must sign an "Offseason Workout and Minicamp Participation Agreement" in order to get paid for participating in these workouts.
Furthermore, according to the CBA:
Players who are under contract or subject to a Required Tender to an NFL Club and who participate in a Club's offseason workout program may also receive expenses for travel, board, and lodging subject to the terms and conditions set forth in Article 1 3, Section 6(eWv)(3).
Players injured during these activities will be covered in the same manner as they would be during training camp, provided they were working out at team facilities under the supervision of a team official.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78