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Explaining NFL OTAs and what to expect from the Bengals

Everything you need to know about NFL OTAs.

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NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-OTA Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports

As the offseason rolls on, the Bengals are about to begin organized team activities (OTAs).

Starting on May 22, most of the Bengals’ 90-man offseason roster will report to Cincinnati and take part in on-field drills for the first time this offseason in a team capacity.

However, this will be far from a full-contact NFL practice. Players are barred from wearing pads and tackling players during OTAs. Contact isn’t allowed, but teams can engage in seven-on-seven, nine-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills.

In other words, OTAs serve as a glorified flag football league when it comes to team drills. Still, they’re a great way for players to stay sharp and maintain their chemistry with teammates.

However, not all of these workouts are mandatory, so we won’t necessarily see all Bengals taking part in them. It won’t be a shocker if guys like Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap pass on these, as they’re set to be free agents and collect on big paydays in 2019. That said, they likely will report and just won’t be doing any serious work.

Suffering a serious injury in OTAs could nuke those hopes, which is why we often see big-name players entering contract years decide to pass on voluntary OTAs.

There is, however, the mandatory minicamp in June, which all players are required to attend. So, we should see all of the Bengals’ roster traveling to Cincinnati in the coming weeks.

The Bengals have already wrapped up their rookie minicamp, which took place from May 11-13. That actually led to the Bengals signing several tryout players. Now, the real fun is about to begin with OTAs for all players starting up. Here’s an explainer on how OTAs and other offseason workouts, per the collective bargaining agreement:

  • Phase 1: Players can undergo strength and conditioning, rehabilitation from injuries and nothing else during this period. This phase lasts two weeks.
  • Phase 2: On-field instruction and drills are allowed, but contact is not permitted and offensive and defensive players cannot be pitted against one another in drills. This phase lasts three weeks.
  • Phase 3: Teams are permitted 10 days of OTAs. Again, contact isn’t allowed but seven-on-seven, nine-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills are allowed. This phase lasts four weeks, and teams are also allowed to hold a mandatory veteran minicamp during this time.

Here is the schedule for the Bengals’ OTAs and other offseason dates to know:

  • OTA Offseason Workouts Phase 1: May 22-24
  • OTA Offseason Workouts Phase 2: May 29-31 and June 1
  • OTA Offseason Workouts Phase 3: June 4-7
  • Mandatory Minicamp: June 12-14
  • Players report to training camp: July 26