The Pittsburgh Steelers are scheduled to start organized team activities on Tuesday, at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side.
But how many of the Steelers will show up?
Last month, the team’s players pledged to boycott OTAs and other voluntary portions of the team’s offseason program in a statement through the NFLPA:
“We should not be made to compromise our health and safety. With the current pandemic still affecting our communities and country, and the lack of clear protocols and protections regarding returning to work at full capacity, the players of the Pittsburgh Steelers have decided to exercise our right to not participate in voluntary in-person activities.
“A virtual offseason helped keep us safe to not only start, but finish the regular season as safely as possible and it makes no sense for us to risk infection or injury in the spring if we don’t have to. The protections we had in place last year are not fully in place now and remain unclear. We are professionals and are committed to being in the best shape possible. Our team holds each other accountable to the highest professional standards and we will prepare as we always do to be the best for Steelers Nation.”
Pittsburgh’s players were among a dozen or so teams that made similar statements that they did not want to go back to a normal offseason this spring.
OTAs are voluntary according to the NFL collective bargaining agreement and no Steelers players have a bonus that is directly tied to their attendance to the three weeks of sessions. So the team could skip the workouts entirely if they want to.
But since those teams made those announcements mid-April, many teams have been making efforts to make changes to the offseason programs to appease the players and get them back in the facility.
“A large majority of the NFL’s head coaches have worked out deals with their players to get offseason programs revved up,” Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer wrote on Monday, and said that the Steelers players agreed since Thursday to report for OTAs.
As for what level of participation that might include, it seems that the Steelers negotiated to have fewer team periods and more hands-on instruction from the coaching staff, especially with a new offensive coordinator and new position coaches in the secondary, on the offensive line and at tight end.
With Phase III of the NFL’s voluntary offseason workouts beginning today, don’t expect to see the Steelers work in 11-on-11 periods. Per source, players pushed eliminate contact while still getting learning, teaching opportunities — especially with a new offensive coordinator.
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) May 24, 2021
Even when the team as a whole participates, there have been individual players that have stayed away over the years, so while it will be interesting to see who reports for duty on Tuesday, it seems likely that the majority of the Steelers’ 90-man roster will be in attendance.