And then there were four. Four teams, that is, that have been forced by the NFL to cut back their OTA practices for failing to adhere to the Collective Bargaining Agreement where it pertains to the intensity and tempo of offseason workouts.
Already, Baltimore and Oakland had been busted for violating the CBA. Today, the NFL determined that Jacksonville and Detroit also had violated the rules, and therefore, the Jaguars and the Lions will have to forgo their OTA days for June 21-22.
Players are not permitted to be at the team site for those days, except for injury treatment, but they’ll still be paid.
Here’s what it says in the CBA regarding offseason workouts:
Contact work (e.g., “live” blocking, tackling, pass rushing, bump-and-run), is expressly prohibited in all off-season workouts.
Voluntary off-season workout programs are intended to provide training, teaching and physical conditioning for players. The intensity and tempo of drills should be at a level conducive to learning, with player safety as the highest priority, and not at a level where one player is in a physical contest with another player.
The following rules shall also apply to the fourteen (14) days of organized team practice activity:
• No pads except protective knee or elbow pads. Helmets are permitted.
• No live contact; no live contact drills between offensive and defensive linemen.
• 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills will be permitted, providing no live contact takes place.
• The NFL will monitor all Clubs during the off-season to ensure player safety and adherence to live contact guidelines.
• Maximum six (6) hours per day, with a maximum two (2) hours on field, for any player.
What’s so interesting to me is that, more than likely, a current member of that team turned in his squad to the NFLPA. The NFL, sometimes, has operatives who come to town to check that teams are adhering to the CBA and sometimes, it reviews teams’ practice videos, but it seems unlikely that was the case for all four teams.
So, what does that say? Is the fact a team member righted what was a CBA wrong a commendable action? Or does that make him a pansy?
“You don’t want to rat out your teammates,” one veteran DB told me. “I mean, something had to be said to the (NFL)PA. That goes back to the old saying, ‘If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying,’ but the PA is still there to protect the players.”
Does this happen quite a bit, though? The player to whom I talked, after all, has competed for four teams.
“It happens,” he said. “But you can’t worry about it. You have to worry about your own self.”
I also talked to a recently-retired defensive lineman about this issue, and he said the league should make it easy – have all OTAs be considered a passing camp. The linemen, he said, shouldn’t have to pound on each so much in the offseason, considering the beating they take during the regular season.
As for Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio, here’s what he told the media today: "Unfortunately it’s been decided by the (NFL) PA and the Management Council that we were somehow going beyond the limits that they had established for us, and while I don’t necessarily agree with that assessment of what we’ve been doing, we are going to respect that decision. … I don’t think in any way this diminishes the amount of work we were able to get done; the energy and the effort was outstanding. I feel like we accomplished a great deal as a young football team that’s very hungry, that’s very eager.”
Del Rio also said next work’s workouts were simply going to be a review of what already had been installed. The Florida Times-Union’s Vito Stellino tweeted this about the punishment: “The ironic thing is that the writers had nicknamed Del Rio's camps Cub Med in the pas(t) because of a lack of hitting in pads.”
As for the Lions, they’ll still hold their mini-camp June 23-25, and GM Martin Mayhew said in a statement the organization will continue to respect the league’s rules and regulations. Meanwhile, running back Kevin Smith said he expects his teammates to participate in cardio work on their own.
“You don’t want to take four or five days off before a minicamp that’s going to be pretty intense, Smith told the Detroit Free Press .
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter.