The Patriots offseason program just got shorter.
According to a source, the Patriots are losing two days of OTAs after violating offseason rules. The team already canceled Thursday’s practice, which was supposed to be open to the media. The Patriots will also lose a day of OTAs next week. They were initially scheduled to practice next Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.
ESPN was the first to report the news of the team’s violation.
Although the Patriots violation isn’t known at this time, history suggests that OTA violations typically center around player contact in what should be non-contact practices. According to the NFL collective bargaining agreement, “contact work… is expressly prohibited in all offseason workouts.” All offseason practices are recorded and in the CBA, it’s written that the NFLPA may view practice film “only upon the filing of a complaint alleging a violation.”
The Patriots were originally set for 13 practices this spring – 10 days of OTAs and three days of minicamp. That’s the standard set for all NFL teams. This violation will cut them down to eight days of optional OTAs to go with their three-day minicamp.
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OTAs, also known as organized training activities, started this week across the NFL. The Patriots practiced on Monday and Tuesday. They were scheduled for one more, on Thursday, but the team canceled that session around 2 p.m. on Wednesday.
This period marks Phase Three of the NFL offseason workout program. It’s the first time in the offseason where teams can practice with the offense going up against the defense in 11-on-11, 9-on-7 and 7-on-7 drills. However, no contact is allowed. Players are also not allowed to wear pads during this period.
The Patriots aren’t the first team to be docked a spring practice for a violation. Last year, the NFL levied discipline against three teams – the Chicago Bears, Washington Commanders and Dallas Cowboys.
The Bears lost one day of OTAs after having a live-contact practice in OTAs. According to ESPN, an NFLPA representative witnessed the on-field contact and reported the violation. The Commanders were docked two OTA practices this spring after the NFL and NFLPA found the team had too much contact in their 2022 practices. Coach Ron Rivera was also fined $100,000. The Cowboys were lost one day of OTAs this spring and Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy was fined after the team was caught violating the non-contact rule.
In 2021, the NFL fined the Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers for OTA violations – those infractions were never announced.
In 2018, the Baltimore Ravens lost two days of OTAs and their head coach, John Harbaugh was fined $50,000 for an undisclosed violation of offseason rules. In 2016, the NFL brought down the hammer on the Seattle Seahawks. They were docked a future fifth-round pick and lost a week of OTAs for the next offseason after having “excessive contact” in their offseason workouts.
Seattle was also disciplined in 2012. In that offseason, they were docked two days of OTAs after the NFL discovered the team engaged in live contact during a practice session.