If April 15 is the last day for many Americans to square up their taxes, it's also the first day for Tampa Bay Buccaneer players to start making payments in sweat equity.
The Buccaneers' offseason workouts begin on that mid-April Monday, kicking off a nine-week program that is split into three phases and concludes with a three-day mini-camp in June. While the mini-camp is mandatory for all players, every other aspect of the program is voluntary for veterans, and no live contact is permitted at any point during the offseason
All teams were required to submit their finalized offseason schedule to the NFL by Monday, including a starting day for workouts, the specific dates for organized team activity days (OTAs) and any mini-camp information. All teams are allowed one three-day mandatory mini-camp, and teams with new head coaches are also afforded a second three-day voluntary mini-camp.
Quite a few teams will be starting their offseason program on Tax Day, including NFC South foes Carolina and New Orleans (Atlanta is starting a week later). The teams with new head coaches can begin earlier, and many are kicking off their workouts next Tuesday. This is called Phase One of the program under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and it only includes strength and conditioning activities and physical rehabilitation.
Phase One lasts just two weeks. In Phase Two, coaches may join the players on the field for, as the NFL describes it, "individual player instruction and drills as well as team practiced conducted on a 'separates' basis." That is, the various positions can work individually, and the offense and defense may drill as units, but the offense cannot go against the defense.
Phase Three consists of the 10 OTAs allotted to each team. These may be spread out anywhere over the course of a four-week period, not including the weekends. The Buccaneers will hold their OTAs on May 20-21, May 23, May 29-31, June 3-4 and June 6-7. The OTAs are a team's opportunity to hold more structured practices, such as the ones conducted during training camp and the regular season. Again, no live contact is permitted, but teams may run 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills pitting offense against defense.
Phase Three also includes the aforementioned mandatory mini-camp, which for the Buccaneers will fall on June 11-13. As usual, this will be the conclusion of the offseason program, after which players will get an extended break before the start of training camp in July. The Buccaneers have not yet announced their training camp dates.
The above program does not include the "rookie football development program" that teams are also afforded after the draft. This year, that seven-week program will begin on May 13, though teams are also allowed to hold a rookie mini-camp on one of the two weekends that follows the draft. Those rookie camp dates have not been released yet.
The 2013 NFL Draft is scheduled for Thursday-Saturday, April 25-27.