The Baltimore Ravens have been forced to cancel their final two OTA practices, and the organization and coach John Harbaugh have been fined, after the team was found to have violated collectively bargained rules governing contact in offseason workouts.
It's the second time in three years the Ravens have been found in violation of offseason workout rules. They forfeited three OTA practices in 2016 for similar violations.
"Our team has been singled out for pass coverage contact during the early part of OTAs," Harbaugh said in a statement released by the team. "Even with consistent and repeated teaching, the rules pose considerable adjustments for the young players. We have tried very hard to eliminate contact in pass coverage during OTAs, even so far as to pull players out of practice who struggle with these adjustments. I am confident we have done everything in our power and ability to practice within the rules, and we will continue to focus on preparing, teaching and practicing the right way."
The NFL's collective bargaining agreement, in place since 2011, prohibits contact during offseason workouts. It reads, in part, "Contact work (e.g., 'live' blocking, tackling, pass rushing, bump-and-run) is expressly prohibited in all offseason workouts."
The CBA requires all teams to film all of their practice sessions and maintain copies of those films until 30 days after the start of the regular season. The NFL and the NFL Players Association have the ability to request to view those films to determine whether a violation of the rules has occurred.
Usually, such a review would be triggered by a player complaint. However, a source said, teams that have been penalized for violations in the past can be subject to "spot-checks," meaning an NFLPA representative could drop in on practice or request a copy of practice film randomly. It's unclear what triggered this most recent investigation of the Ravens.
As for the fines, the CBA specifies that the head coach is subject to a fine of $100,000 for a first violation and $250,000 for a second violation, and the team is subject to a fine of $250,000 for a first violation and $500,000 for a second. But the CBA also grants the commissioner the right to adjust those fines downward under certain circumstances and after consulting with the executive director of the NFLPA.
The league has not disclosed the amount of the fines, but NFL Network reported that the Ravens will be fined $100,000 while Harbaugh will be docked $50,000.
In 2010, which was Harbaugh's third season, Baltimore had to cancel the final week of OTAs, which amounted to two special teams practices, after six players complained to the players' union about late meetings and two others reported being held too long on the field after practice.