With the United States vaccinating between three and four million people per day lately, there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel of the COVID-19 pandemic. Things are not back to normal yet, and may not be completely back for a few months yet. For the NFL, however, their offseason program appears to be on track to kick into gear by May.
Last year, OTA’s were canceled as we know it and replaced by virtual meetings. Now approaching a year later, the country and the NFL is in a very different place. So, there seemed the possibility of avoiding that situation this year.
Earlier this month, I asked Raiders GM Mike Mayock what he was hearing and expecting in terms of how this year’s OTA’s will be conducted.
“Technically OTAs and everything are still on. We haven’t gotten any
word that they aren’t. We’re preparing for that,” said Mayock.
That was March 3. Now nearly a month later, and a little over a month out from when OTA’s are to start, the word is still good on the status of them
The NFL just sent a memo to clubs, saying they should prepare to conduct meetings virtually when offseason programs begin April 19, but don’t anticipate another all-virtual workout program like 2020, per sources.
Translation: Get ready to see players on the field this spring.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 31, 2021
This is great news for NFL clubs. Last year the Raiders felt like they didn’t get nearly as much as they had hopes to get from their rookie class and newcomers because of the lack of an offseason as well as a preseason slate. Mayock expounded upon the need for these offseason activities.
“I would make a side comment that there’s a lot of talk out there that we don’t need OTAs. That we don’t need preseason games. What I would tell you as an old man is that development of young players is key to the future of this game,” Mayock continued. “We don’t have any kind of developmental league anymore. I know certain veteran players don’t really need OTAs like young players do, but I’m telling you, without OTAs and preseason, trying to get these young players up to speed and at a certain level is really difficult. All 32 teams are going to play under the same rules, I completely understand and appreciate that, but I think anybody that doesn’t think OTAs and preseason games are critically important to the development of our youth aren’t really looking at the picture correctly.”
Missing the workouts ahead of the draft is not a grave loss. What’s important is the rookie minicamp, those ten OTA practices, and the three-day mandatory minicamp in June. Without them, it’s a long offseason before the team convenes for training camp in late July.