For the second time in three years, the NFL has found the Seahawks participated in “excessive contact” during an offseason practice. The league has made Seattle forfeit a fifth-round draft choice in 2017, fined the Seahawks $400,000, fined coach Pete Carroll $200,000 and taken away the first three organized-team-activity practices next spring.
The NFL announced the sanctions Monday morning. The league had caught the Seahawks for the same issues twice in previous offseasons.
“During the team’s June 6, 2016 Organized Team Activity (OTA) day, players engaged in excessive on-field physical contact, which is expressly prohibited in all offseason workouts under the NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement,” the league wrote, referring also to the NFL players’ union. “The prohibition is one of several measures the NFL and NFLPA implemented to enhance player safety by limiting contact during offseason workout programs. The rules also help to prevent any team from gaining a competitive advantage.”
June 6 was an OTA that closed to the media.
The worst sanction was Seattle losing the draft pick. Carroll and general manager John Schneider have drafted two stars of its top-ranked defense, three-time All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman and Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor in the fifth rounds of previous drafts.
Carroll said he believes the sanctions -- the worst of which for Seattle was losing the draft pick -- were tougher because the Seahawks are repeat offenders of this offseason-contact rule.
"I think so, yeah. I think so,” the coach said. “I mean, it's been over six years' time that we've been doing it and working on this.
“I've just got to make sure I do a better job on this. We have to work harder to understand what everybody else is doing and just really staying within the lines that they think is right, and we have to find out. We had the league come in to talk to our players and all that stuff, in the offseason again this year, we just have to do a better job."
Carroll said Monday two younger Seahawks players “banged heads” during another OTA practice without helmets. The team was not in helmets for this offseason’s practices.
The coach described the mechanics of how these penalties get reviewed and handed down.
“We know the league can look at any practice, any day, and they call for it whenever they choose to, randomly. So knowing that, we practice in compliance the whole time, thinking they can see whatever we are doing,” Carroll said. “They also have random visits, visitors come from the NFLPA and from the league, local guys come. So those guys have come out the last couple years and we've had no issues, at all. So it's unfortunate.
“We've got to do ... I've got to do a better job and make sure that we are toeing the line with the standards. It was hard because we had such a good year last year and the same way with just more alerts. We've gone through a lot. As a matter of fact, at times if a guy seems to be a little overzealous we take him out of practice. We've had guys get suspended from practice, because of efforts that we thought were out of line and stuff like that. But, still, we didn't meet the standards that they want. So this is what happened."
Asked if the June 6 practice in question was the result of an NFL observer being at the drills, Carroll said: "I don't think so that day. I think they just heard about it, or something, and just picked up the film."
The league also wrote Monday: “In the letter notifying the club of the discipline, the NFL referenced Appendix G of the CBA which underscores the importance of player safety and the purpose of the “no-live-contact” rule:
“’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 league noted “the decision to impose discipline was made after the NFL and NFLPA independently reviewed the Seahawks’ June 6, 2016 on-field practice video and agreed that the club had violated the “no-live-contact” rule, as set forth in Article 21, Section 2(b)(iii), Section 5(a) and Appendix G of the CBA.
“The Seahawks were also advised that any additional violation of the CBA’s player work rules, or any violation affecting the competitive aspects of the game, will likely result in significantly higher fines, the cancellation of future OTA days, minicamp days, preseason or regular season practices, as well as the forfeiture of higher-round or multiple draft selections.”