NFLPA set to propose reconfiguring NFL’s offseason workout schedule

<p>The NFL Players Association is formulating a proposal to reconfigure the sport’s offseason calendar.</p> <p>The NFLPA’s proposal, if enacted, would eliminate teams’ voluntary on-field workouts in the spring in favor of a longer ramp-up period for players leading into teams’ training camps in the summer, two people familiar with the deliberations confirmed Tuesday.</p> <p>The proposal has not yet been presented to the league and the NFL’s team owners. It has not yet been finalized, according to one of the people with knowledge of the matter.</p> <p>The prospective proposal has strong support among players, according to another person on the players’ side, who called it “much needed.”</p> <p>The new offseason schedule, if the proposal is enacted, could take effect as soon as next year. Under the current arrangement, players typically gather at their teams’ facilities beginning in April for a series of workouts, practices known as organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamps. Much of the work is voluntary for players, under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players’ union. Players generally are off from around mid-June until training camps open in late July.</p> <p>Under this proposal, most of the on-field work in the spring would be eliminated. Players would have a longer break after the season and then would report to training camp in late June or early July for workouts that gradually would increase in intensity, culminating with full practices.</p> <p>The proposal was first reported by the league-owned NFL Network. It is being formulated under new leadership for the NFLPA. Player representatives voted last year to elect Lloyd Howell to succeed DeMaurice Smith as the union’s executive director. Players voted in March to elect Detroit Lions linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin to succeed JC Tretter, a former center for the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns, as the NFLPA’s president.</p> <p>The NFLPA is expected to put the measure before the league and owners while they contemplate making a renewed push to attempt to get the union to agree to an 18-game regular season.</p> <p>NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has expressed his preference in recent weeks for an 18-game season. The owners largely support that preference, and the league and owners might attempt to get the union to agree to such a lengthening of the season well before the current CBA expires after the 2030 season, according to five people familiar with the NFL’s inner workings and the owners’ views.</p> <p>Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expressed his support for an 18-game season last week in Nashville as the owners completed a two-day meeting, mentioning previous changes to the offseason and training camp schedules for players.</p> <p>“I’m favorable to that and to look at that,” Jones said then. “I think that’s the most effective allocation between regular season and preseason [games]. And so with a lot of the things that we’ve done, how we prepare our teams, how we do in the preseason, that’s more practical today than it was maybe 10 [or] 15 years ago.”</p> <p>The owners increased the regular season from 16 to 17 games per team in 2021 after securing the right to do so in the CBA completed in 2020. The labor deal prohibits the league and owners from going to an 18-game season, so the NFLPA would have to agree to such a change. A person on the players’ side recently predicted that the league and owners would make a proposal for an 18-game season to the NFLPA in the next 12 to 18 months.</p> <p>The NFLPA’s proposal for a reconfigured offseason schedule is not directly tied to the owners’ desire to go to an 18-game season. But the two issues could be part of a negotiation between the league and the NFLPA. The players also could seek other concessions by the owners in return for agreeing to an 18-game season. Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has mentioned the possibility of a second in-season bye week for each team. The players received an increased share of league revenue under the salary cap system when the NFLPA agreed to give the owners the option of implementing a 17-game season.</p>