5 Do’s and Don’ts for Phase One of Offseason Workouts

by | Apr 18, 2017 | Articles, The League, The Team

Monday, April 17th marked the first day of Phase One of the Cowboys’ Official Offseason Program. Players hit the practice fields and weight room at The Star in Frisco for conditioning workouts, but the NFL is very strict regarding what can and cannot take place during the first of three phases of official offseason workouts.

The parameters of offseason work are specifically listed in the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). If you have insomnia and want to go to sleep quickly, I suggest you Google the agreement between the NFL and the NFL’s Player Union. For anyone with a life, skip it. I’ve already done it for you (because a football reporter in the offseason has little else to do with their time).

Without further ado, I’ve truncated the parameters and made this list of 5 Do’s and Don’ts concerning Phase One of Voluntary Offseason Workouts.


DON’T USE A FOOTBALL (unless you’re a quarterback throwing to a receiver who cannot be covered by a defender).

You’ll find this doozy of a non-football-using restriction on page 132 of the CBA under “Article 21 Offseason Workouts”.  It’s right there in black-and-white in Section 2 (b) (i): “No footballs shall be permitted to be used (only ‘dead ball activities’), except that the quarterback may elect to throw to receivers provided they are not covered by any other player.”

So don’t expect to see Zeke Elliott carrying a football on the practice field. Sean Lee will not be diving head-first for any fumbles. He and teammates are not allowed to use footballs during Phase One.



This is in the same Article, section, sub-section…right after the part about not using footballs. You can’t get more specific than this: “Players cannot wear helmets during Phase One.” This phase is supposed to be conditioning, not football. And there’s no offense-vs-defense or contact allowed. Therefore, there’s no need for a helmet, much less football pads or a uniform. It’s the underwear Olympics, not a real practice.



Players are allowed to work with a team’s strength & conditioning coaches both on the football field and inside the weight room.

Prior to Phase One, players were allowed to work out on-their-own at the team’s facility, but not under the direction of the staff. The strength & conditioning coaches were only allowed to be on-site (such as inside the weight room) to “supervise use of the weight room to prevent injury and to correct misuse of equipment”.

The Cowboys have three strength & conditioning coaches: Director Mike Woicik, Assistant Brett Bech, and Assistant Kendall Smith. None of the other coaches, including head coach Jason Garrett and coordinators Scott Linehan, Rod Marinelli, and Rich Biscaccia, are allowed to observe and/or instruct players during Phase One which lasts two weeks. When Phase Two begins on May 1st, the entire coaching staff can interact with players. Officially, the CBA explicitly states:  “no other coaches shall be allowed on the field or to otherwise participate in or observe activities”.


DO WORKOUT UP TO 4 HOURS PER DAY (but no more than 4!!!)

Section 2 under “Time Periods” for Offseason Workouts says “Clubs may schedule no more than four workouts per week for an individual player; such workouts programs shall not be permitted on weekends”. And specifically for Phase One, players can workout at the facility up to 4 hours per day (the club can only specify 2 hours of activity time among those 4 hours, the rest of the time is up to the individual player). Also, a player can be on the field for a maximum of 90 minutes per workout day.



“Section 3-Payment” of Article 21 Offseason Workout specifically states: “Each player shall receive at least the following amounts per day for any workouts or classroom instruction in which he participates pursuant to a Club’s voluntary offseason workout program, provided the player fulfills the Club’s reasonable offseason workout requirement”. The compensation varies by year. The CBA calls “per day” payment for 2017-2018 league years: $215 (it was $195 in 2015-2016).

Further: “Players are required to complete three out of four scheduled workouts, including any scheduled OTAs, per week in order to be paid for any workout the player completes in that week.”

*Note: Phase One of the 2017 Cowboys Offseason Program continues for two weeks. Phase Two begins Monday, May 1st and will last three weeks. Phase Two will include on-field individual & team work (but no “live contact” drills nor “offense vs. defense”).