The Importance of Voluntary Offseason Programs

The Importance of Voluntary Offseason Programs

NFL franchises have the opportunity to conduct 10 days of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) without any live contact during the offseason. These sessions are designed not only to foster team unity but also to lay the groundwork for the forthcoming season. The voluntary nature of these programs, however, does place a spotlight on the decisions made by players regarding their participation.

Spotlight on Micah Parsons' OTA Attendance

Micah Parsons, the renowned linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys, has raised eyebrows with his absence from two consecutive weeks of the team's OTAs. During a period where he was expected to be with the team, Parsons was notably active on social media and was elsewhere engaged, including spending time in Tokyo and focusing on boxing training instead of joining his teammates at OTAs. While it's common for some NFL players to pursue alternative training methods during the offseason, the decision to miss team-organized activities can generate discussion regarding commitment and preparation.

Coach McCarthy Weighs In

Head Coach Mike McCarthy openly expressed that he views Parsons' decision to skip the OTAs as a "missed opportunity." McCarthy emphasized the significance of the offseason program for both the cohesion of the team and the development of individuals. With a reported 98% turnout of the roster at the OTAs, McCarthy's comments underscore the collective effort and commitment demonstrated by the majority of the Cowboys' squad.

Team Reactions and Personal Commitments

The perspective on OTA participation isn't uniform across the board, with some players and team leaders voicing the importance of these activities, especially for the newer members of the team. Wide receiver Brandin Cooks highlighted the particular relevance of OTA attendance for younger players in acclimating to the professional level and internalizing the team ethos. Likewise, Tyler Smith, speaking from experience, regards OTAs as essential for grounding in the fundamentals and enhancing team integration. Quarterback Dak Prescott, in the midst of contract negotiations, has made a point of attending all OTA sessions, showcasing his leadership and commitment to the team's success.

Looking Toward Mandatory Minicamp

The looming mandatory minicamp scheduled for June 4-6 represents a pivotal moment in the offseason calendar. Unlike OTAs, players are subject to fines for unexcused absences from minicamp, underscoring the increased stakes and expectations. Coach McCarthy articulated the collective responsibility of the team, irrespective of their physical presence at OTAs. His emphasis on preparation for the training camp in Oxnard indicates a clear expectation for every player to contribute to the team's objectives. As McCarthy succinctly puts it, this period offers "our one opportunity for real football," signaling the transition from voluntary preparations to essential team-building activities. Quarterback Dak Prescott succinctly captured the essence of the team's current phase with his remarks on the business aspects of football. “Business is business... Right now, it's about being my best for this team right now in this moment," Prescott said, highlighting the individual obligation towards collective excellence.


As the Dallas Cowboys navigate through the offseason, the attendance and participation in OTAs and the upcoming mandatory minicamp remain indicative of the players' commitment and readiness for the upcoming NFL season. With a solid turnout so far and leadership figures emphasizing the importance of these activities, the team is laying a foundation for both individual and collective success. As the minicamp approaches, all eyes will be on who steps onto the field ready to contribute to the Cowboys' ambitions for the season ahead.