Rules of the offseason

Posted by Darren Urban on February 8, 2013 – 10:06 am

With new coach Bruce Arians taking over, there have been some questions about when they can get started working with players — the collective bargaining agreement makes it plain they can’t do it right now, and all the coaches who have talked the last couple of days have mentioned how they have been careful to work within the CBA rules in that regard. There has been no official schedule released yet about how the offseason will proceed. Key fact to note: The Cardinals — as you can see below — can’t begin before the first Monday in April. Here’s a quick look at the CBA language about what is to come.

(And yes, a new staff like the Cardinals have are allowed to have an extra minicamp for veterans — as you will see — but it must be regarded as voluntary as opposed to the one mandatory minicamp.)

Current offseasons are broken into three parts. Phase One is two weeks long, and is only strength and conditioning along with rehab. Only John Lott and Pete Alosi — the strength and conditioning coaches — are allowed on the field with players, and players can’t use actual footballs if they are on the field at the facility. In Phase Two, over the next three weeks, coaches can get on the field and run individual drills or unit drills alone — offense or defense, but offense can’t go against defense.

Phase Three, over the next four weeks, includes the minicamp and OTAs, and is the only time players can wear helmets. Live contact isn’t permitted.

As for having a new staff, here are the relevant parts of the CBA:

Article 21, Section 2: If a Club hires a new head coach after the end of the prior regular season, that Club may schedule or conduct an offseason workout program for no more than nine total weeks, with eight of the weeks required to be consecutive and subject to Article 22, Section 3, to be completed over a twelve-week period. All other Clubs may schedule or conduct offseason workout programs for no more than nine consecutive total weeks, to be completed over a ten-week period. In either case, Clubs may schedule no more than four workouts per week for any individual player. Such workout programs shall not be permitted on weekends.

Article 21, Section 2, Subsection 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.

Article 22, Section 3: Voluntary Veteran Minicamp: Any voluntary minicamp for veteran players must be conducted prior to the College Draft, but no earlier than week three of the Club’s offseason workout program and after at least one week of the two weeks of Phase One activities that the Clubs may hold pursuant to Article 21. 

A couple of key points: The Cards aren’t allowed to get started in the offseason this year before April, and the CBA pretty much spells out that players aren’t allowed to do much of anything with coaches before the start of the offseason program. Players can start working out in the weight room on their own, but coaches can’t do anything but supervise to prevent injury and misuse of equipment.

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15 Responses to “Rules of the offseason”

  1. By wnycardfan on Feb 8, 2013 | Reply

    great post on the rules. Excellent digging and helping us all understand the time line here.
    Like I said previously, so far I am really liking Arians attitude and personality. And the two coaches (Bowles and Goodwin) just introduced I also like how they are coming across. I am anxious to see them in action

  2. By D on Feb 8, 2013 | Reply

    But as far as Kolb, Larry F, Rhodes, Campbell they can reach out to their agents now to work restructures if they wanted to…right Darren..
    They need cap space and or extra draft picks to fill holes….

  3. By Darren Urban on Feb 8, 2013 | Reply

    D —

    RE: Contracts

    Yes, contract business still takes place.

  4. By Mike G on Feb 8, 2013 | Reply

    Hey Darren–Hope all is good– Nice informative post on the rules. Glad to see the Card’s sticking with the 3-4 on defense. I’m sure Bowles will add some wrinkles and be a little different than Horton. You just hate to keep changing philosophies and terminology –it can affect the players. I guess the next thing is player evaluation and the upcoming draft as far as the fans go. I would like to see the Card’s pick up a lineman in the first round and build up the offense and strengthen the line. Hey Darren–Which player in your eyes showed the most improvement on offense as the season progressed and should have a nice year in 2013???? —Floyd, Massie, Potter, Housler etc…

  5. By Darren Urban on Feb 8, 2013 | Reply

    Mike G —

    RE: Improvement

    Let’s see what they look like in the offseason.

  6. By Jeff Wallace on Feb 8, 2013 | Reply

    Can you post the coming schedule of various events like combine, free agency, draft, otas, mini camps, etc.

  7. By Darren Urban on Feb 8, 2013 | Reply

    Jeff —

    RE: Calendar

    One of the reasons I posted this was to make the point there is no schedule yet — as I wrote above.

  8. By Dynosoar on Feb 8, 2013 | Reply

    Every once in a while someone wants to trade Larry Fitzgerald and I do understand the reasoning. I also understand the reasoning for keeping him. I have one stick to measure the debate by…

    Larry is on record stating he wants to be a Cardinals player for his entire career. I would think, given how the team has performed before, durring and after the Warner years, his desires to remain and win with this organization should be the key consideration.

    I understand “it’s a business.” I also know the best businessess treat people like people and not assets. Larry is here to stay as long as he wants to stay and I for one am very pleased that we have players as loyal to our team as we are. (Wilson, Docket, many more.)

    Somethings being done right. Now, let’s get Larry that ring and have a banner to hang in UofP stadium.

  9. By NYCardinals212 on Feb 8, 2013 | Reply


    I disagree that “Larry is here to stay as long as he wants to stay”. As far as I know, he doesn’t have any way out of his contract, other than to retire or play through it. Larry is here as long as the Cardinals want him.

    Also, I don’t understand the argument (by some fans, not that you believe this) that the Cardinals should “do right by Larry” and trade him — to allow him to win a Super Bowl with a better team. The Cardinals owe Larry nothing, other than the praise he receives and the money — HUGE MONEY — in his contract. I love Larry (as I know you do), but he signed his “retirement contract” with the Cardinals. He owes us, the fans, a continuation of his athletic greatness — then we’ll be even.


  10. By aaron on Feb 8, 2013 | Reply

    And even with this explanation, I’m still prediction at least 100 twitter questions asking when they can start practicing.

  11. By AndyStandsUp on Feb 8, 2013 | Reply

    But players CAN workout on their own, if so desired, correct Darren? Though they won’t get possibly paid if injured ala Terrell Suggs. (He did, but team’s option.)
    Did Fitz or Kolb have any high school exercises last offseason?
    And can the CBA be revised to change this ridiculous provision or are we stuck with it for the next 10 years?

  12. By Darren Urban on Feb 9, 2013 | Reply

    AndyStands —

    RE: CBA

    The CBA isn’t changing. This is what the players got in exchange for giving money back.

  13. By truths4all on Feb 8, 2013 | Reply

    Before last year’s training camp, there were sporadic reports of players working out together on their own to improve on the weaknesses they found in their game during the OTAs and to fine tune their execution of the playbook.

    Are there any plans by the Cards to report any such similar unofficial efforts and personal dedication by players to improve on their own time for the coming season?

  14. By Darren Urban on Feb 9, 2013 | Reply

    truths —

    RE: Working on own

    I have no idea.

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