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BTB Mailbag: What Does The Cowboys Offseason Program Look Like?

A look at key offseason dates for the Dallas Cowboys and what the new CBA has to say about the NFL's offseason program.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

If you have a question for BTB, ask us on Twitter (@BloggingTheBoys) or send us an Email ( with the subject "Ask BTB"). And now on to today's questions, which are both about the Cowboys' offseason program:

What are the coaches and players doing between now and the draft? – TCB Orange Dino

What access do coaches have to players (& vice versa) during offseason for workout, training, etc?
- @KazzCowboys

The new NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement placed many more restrictions on the "voluntary" offseason conditioning program than its previous iteration. Under the previous CBA, offseason workouts would be starting right about now. Coaches would instruct players in classrooms and conditioning and on-field sessions would already take place nearly five months before training camps open in late July.

With the new CBA, none of that happens before mid April, and players and teams can do very little until then. The teams can send their players a playbook. They can also let them watch film. But the coaches can’t go over the playbook or watch film together with the players.

Players are allowed to use the team’s strength and conditioning facility, but the new CBA only allows the strength coaches to "supervise use of the weight room to prevent injury and to correct misuse of equipment." Specific training tips, group workouts and any type of coaching is strictly prohibited.

Here is what the CBA allows:

Art 21, Sect. 2 (a): Clubs may schedule or conduct offseason workout programs for no more than nine consecutive total weeks, to be completed over a ten-week period

Art 21, Sect. 2 (c): Each year offseason workout programs cannot begin prior to the first Monday in April for Clubs that have hired a new head coach after the end of the prior regular season, and cannot begin prior to the third Monday in April for all other Clubs.

The nine week program is broken into three separate phases as follows:

Phase One: For the first two weeks, only strength and conditioning coaches are allowed to work with players on the field, and the activities are limited to "strength and conditioning" and "physical rehabilitation." All other coaches may not attend or observe in any way

The CBA prohibits the use of footballs during Phase One. The only exception allowed is for quarterbacks to throw to receivers, but defensive backs aren’t allowed to cover them, and coaches may not be present.

Phase Two: This is three weeks of individual and "perfect play" drills (no offense vs. defense), and all coaches are permitted on the field. The workouts may include individual player instructions and drills.

All of these drills are conducted without helmets. Contact work (e.g., "live" blocking, tackling, pass rushing, bump-and-run), is expressly prohibited.

Phase Three: Teams may conduct a total of 10 days of "Organized Team Activities" over a period of four weeks. The fourth week is usually reserved for a three-day mandatory mini-camp.

All coaches are allowed on the field, but no live contact is permitted in phase three. Helmets may be worn, but no other pads. No one-on-one offense vs. defense drills are permitted (i.e., no offensive linemen vs. defensive linemen pass rush or pass protection drills, no wide receivers vs. defensive backs bump-and-run drills, and no one-on-one special teams drills involving both offense and defense are permitted). Special teams drills (e.g., kicking team vs. return team) are permitted, provided no live contact occurs.


based on the info above, here's what the 2013 offseason will probably look like for the Cowboys:

Key Offseason Dates for the Dallas Cowboys

  • April 15: Teams without a new head coach may begin offseason workout program (teams with new head coaches can begin on April 1)
  • April 25- 27: NFL Draft (New York)
  • Early May: Rookie Minicamp (Either May 3-5 or May 10-12)
  • May 20: Voluntary OTAs may begin (veterans and rookies)
  • June 10: Mandatory Minicamp may begin (veterans and rookies)
  • Late July: Training camp opens (Oxnard, CA)