The San Francisco 49ers return to the field in an organized fashion Monday morning, as the 2014 offseason workout program officially gets underway. It's not exactly real football, but it's better than more mock drafts!
Earlier this month, I put together the first in what is going to become a series of articles the NFL's collective bargaining agreement. We opened with an article on some basic definitions. Given the timing of the offseason workout program, today we're going to break down what the CBA has to say about the offseason workout program. This is covered by Article 21 and Appendix G. You can read those more specifically in this searchable CBA. Feel free to post any questions in the comments.
The first section of Article 21 emphasizes the workouts are voluntary. Of course, 19 players on the 49ers roster have workout bonuses included in their contracts. The rest do not, but I suspect very few will actually skip the workouts. In the past, we've seen some veterans stay home, including center Jonathan Goodwin and cornerback Tarell Brown. Goodwin liked to stay in South Carolina for his workouts, while Brown obviously made a sizable financial mistake in skipping the workouts.
The team is allowed one mandatory minicamp. That is discussed in Article 22 of the CBA, and I'll break that down separately in June.
The workout program involves nine weeks of work, but no weekend work. Teams get ten weeks to work in the nine weeks of the program. If a team has a new head coach, they get 12 weeks to complete the nine weeks of the program.
Phase 1: The first two weeks of the workout program. Limited to only strength and conditioning, and physical rehabilitation. Only full time or part-time strength and conditioning coaches, who have no other coaching responsibilities with the Club, are allowed on the field. No footballs can be used, except that quarterbacks may elect to throw to receivers provided they are not covered by any other player. Players cannot wear helmets during Phase 1.
Phase 2: This covers the next three weeks of the workout program. All coaches are allowed on the field. On-field workouts can include individual player instruction and drills, as well as the entire offense or entire defense on the field, but not offense vs. defense. This also includes special teams, meaning you can have the kicking or return team on the field, but not kicking vs. return.
No offense vs. defense drills are allowed, meaning no one-on-one OL vs. DL pass rush/pass protections drills, no WR vs/ DB bump-and-run drills. Players cannot wear helmets during Phase 2.
Phase 3: This covers the next four weeks of the workout program. During this period, teams can conduct up to ten days of organized team practice activity (OTAs) and a minicamp of no more than three days in length. For the 2014 San Francisco 49ers, that schedule breaks down as follows:
OTAs: May 27-29, June 2-3, June 5, June 9-10, June 12-13
Mandatory Minicamp: June 17-19
No one-on-one offense vs. defense drills permitted, but team offense vs. team defense dills are permitted. This includes 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11. Players can be required to wear helmets, but shells are not permitted. No live contact is permitted. (e.g. "live" blocking, tackling, pass rushing and bump-and-run).
Hours of work
Prior to the OTAs and minicamp, players may be at the facility no more than 4 hours per day, no more than 4 days per week, and not during weekends. They may not spend more than 90 minutes on the field per day. The team can only specify 2 specific hours in a given day during which is "suggests" that the player be at the club facilities. As I read that, they can plan 2 hours of specific times for meetings with position coaches or strength and conditioning coaches, but otherwise, it cannot be "pre-planned" to the hour.
For OTAs, players can be at the facility a maximum of 6 hours per day, with a maximum of 2 hours on the field for any given player.
Aside from workout bonuses, player who participates in workouts or classroom instruction is to be paid $175 per day. Players must complete 3 out of 4 scheduled workouts, including scheduled OTAs, per week to be paid for any workout completed that week, except if there are less than 4 scheduled workouts in a week. In that case, they get paid each day they participate. So basically, if there are 4 scheduled workouts, they have to do at least 3 to get paid for the week.
Players who participate may also receive expenses for travel, board, and lodging. This does not count toward the salary cap so long as it is considered a "reasonable" amount.
If a player gets hurt during the offseason workout program, they will be protected in the same manner as if injured during training camp, so long as they are working out at the Club's facility under the direction of a Club official.