You might be hearing that the Jets are in OTAs this week. I’ll do my best to answer questions you might have below?
What are OTAs?
OTA stands for “Organized Team Activity.”
These are the third and final phase of the offseason program. The Collective Bargaining Agreement allows teams to conduct offseason workouts for nine weeks in the spring. The first phase comprises of meetings, conditioning, and rehab for injured players. The second phase allowed limited drills.
In this OTA third phase, teams can conduct drills pitting the offense against the defense. These include 9 on 7, 7 on 7, and 11 on 11 drills.
During one week of the third phase teams are allowed to hold a minicamp
Are players required to attend?
The minicamp is mandatory. The rest of the offseason program is voluntary, and players aren’t required to attend.
But it’s a bad look for a player to not be there with his team for the offseason program, right?
I understand this perspective if you’re a beat writer trying to generate controversy at a time of year when there isn’t much to talk about, but in reality attendance at these things doesn’t really matter. These are professional athletes. Everybody has their own way of getting ready for the season. By the time training camp rolls around, it’s unlikely anybody will remember which players did and didn’t attend OTAs. All anybody will care about is whether a player is producing. Just like posting a video or leaking a story about an offseason workout, OTA attendance makes for an easy narrative, but in reality every player in the league is preparing for the 2022 season.
Why would a player skip OTAs?
There are any number of reasons. Some have commitments in their lives. Some just don’t feel like it is necessary start of getting ready for the season.
The noteworthy absences tend to come with players who have contract disputes. It is one of the few avenues a player has to display his unhappiness with a team without incurring any sort of retribution. Unlike training camp and the regular season, a player can’t be fined for skipping OTAs since they are voluntary.
How seriously should we take OTA results?
I personally wouldn’t say there is zero relevance, but I would say there is close to zero relevance. Sometimes you catch the beginning of a story, such as a breakout player looking greatly improved. On the flip side, the first signs that Denzel Mims might not have as big of a role as expected last year came during the offseason program.
Still, for every OTA narrative that has a long shelf life, it feels like there are twenty or so that are quickly forgotten.
You probably wouldn’t care much if you heard a player had a strong week of practice in October. Heck, the Jets get mocked after a loss when the coaching staff talks about how well they practiced.
So why would you put a ton of stock into practices in May and June? The answer is simple. There isn’t anything else to discuss.
That doesn’t mean OTAs are worth overanalyzing, though. The Jets only open some of their OTAs up to the media so what we are getting isn’t even a complete picture.