One of the biggest changes put into place by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement were cuts in the amount of time and types of work teams can do during the offseason.
There are five fewer weeks of offseason work under the new rules and teams are limited to nine days of OTAs and one minicamp, none of which can feature any “live contact.” That makes every moment count a little bit more than it did in past seasons, something that some coaches think is a good thing. Two coaches told Albert Breer of NFL.com that the compressed schedule led to more structure and productivity in the spring because the players put more of a premium on it.
Tom Brady is one example of that new attitude. Brady used to spend part of the offseason in California working out on his own, but spent this entire offseason with the Patriots and said the shorter schedule was the reason for the change. Breer heard from people in Denver and New York that said the Manning brothers both spent every minute possible with their teams. Aaron Rodgers did the same for the Packers and coach Mike McCarthy said that his presence signaled the importance of the workouts to the rest of the team.
“Your best players have gotta be your best people, and your best people gotta be the best representatives and salesmen of your program,” McCarthy said. “That’s something that’s talked about, and (Rodgers) does that. He does it to the umpteenth. Now, he’s had events, and his schedule is different than the rest of our football team. But he still makes it work.”
As Breer points out, not all the top quarterbacks were on the same program. Drew Brees wasn’t with the Saints this spring after leading them in workouts throughout the lockout last year, although people in New Orleans might be heartened by the fact that the Packers didn’t work out as a team at all last spring before reeling off 13 straight wins to start the season.