Seahawks' penalty is an NFL message

RENTON, Wash. -- If you were to name a half dozen NFL teams that play it old-school in practice by getting rough and rowdy at risk to players, the Seattle Seahawks would not be one of them.

That's why it's surprising to learn the Seahawks are being fined and are losing two 2015 minicamp practice sessions for violating the no-contact rules in offseason workouts. The combined total of the fines for the franchise and coach Pete Carroll exceed $300,000, sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

The Seahawks are as cautious as any team in the league when it comes to protecting injured players and limiting their time on the field until they are fully recovered.

Receiver Percy Harvin might be the best example of that. The Seahawks took every precaution last season until they were convinced Harvin was in no danger of damaging his surgically repaired hip. He played in only one regular-season game.

The team also usually ends its practice sessions earlier than the time allowed by the league, but a practice session in June got out of hand and the team has paid a heavy price.

The Seahawks did not address the issue Tuesday. Carroll is expected to talk to reporters following Wednesday's walk-through practice.

The fine is a result of excessive contact from a mandatory veteran's minicamp practice session June 18 when cornerback Richard Sherman and wide receiver Phil Bates were involved in a fight.

It isn't the fight that caused the fine. It's the contact in drills that led up to the fight. The violation was for permitting the players to engage in excessive levels of on-field physical contact.

The 2011 collective bargaining agreement bans physical contact between players during the offseason. Specifically, the rule states: "There will be no contact work (e.g., "live" blocking, tackling, pass-rushing, bump-and-run) or use of pads (helmets permitted) at minicamps."

The fight was the headline of the day, but not the main violation. Both Sherman and Bates landed blows to the other's head. Neither player was injured. Obviously, coaches can't control whether a fight breaks out. That's not the issue.

The altercation began one play earlier when receiver Bryan Walters made a diving catch on the sidelines while being closely covered by free safety Earl Thomas, who fell over the top of Walters after the play.

Walters injured his right shoulder and was in obvious pain on the sideline. Receiver Doug Baldwin was clearly angry, believing Thomas had landed on Walters in the no-tackling scrimmage.

Sherman was playing press coverage on Bates the next play. They grabbed each other at the snap, and neither man let go. Sherman ripped off Bates' helmet and punches flew before Sherman also lost his helmet.

Moments later, Carroll briefly halted practice and called everyone to the middle of the field.

"He just told us we needed to regain our focus and remember why we're out here," middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said afterward. "Things got a little out of hand, but it was a lot of fun. I loved it. It felt like a game out there. And I felt like the defense won.”

The NFL later requested tapes of the practice session to determine if a violation occurred. The Seahawks appealed the penalty and lost.

It's the second time in the past two years the Seahawks have been penalized for violating offseason contact rules.

While the fine may seem excessive, the financial loss isn't the biggest problem for the Seahawks. Losing two days of practice sessions in next summer's minicamp is a big deal to the coaches.

The team will have a single practice session on the final day of minicamp. The players still will be paid for the canceled practice sessions.

In an era where every precaution is taken to protect players' safety, the NFL is sending a clear message here, not just to the Seahawks, but to every team. Excessive contact will not be tolerated.