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Buccaneers OTAs: Contact could lead to fines, lost practice time

The NFL CBA expressly forbids contact at OTAs, so the question is: did the Buccaneers cross the line?

Al Messerschmidt

Another day, another controversy. Pro Football Talk managed to find a radio appearance of Roy Cummings of the Tamp Tribune where he talked about contact occurring at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' OTA practices last week. No contact is allowed at OTAs, per the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement, and if the NFL and NFLPA investigate these allegations and find them to be correct the Buccaneers could be fined or even lose practice time. The Seattle Seahawks lost two OTA practice days last season after they were found to have had too much contract during an offseason practice.

Cummings, though, thought that this contact wasn't directed by the coaches.

"I can't imagine it's being ordered, I think it's just guys being a little overzealous, trying to earn a spot," Cummings added. "And that's part of what this part of the season is about."

This won't matter much to the NFL and NFLPA. The CBA isn't ambiguous, and no contact at all is allowed at these OTAs. The coaches are ultimately responsible for what happens at practice, and the team could be held accountable. The Buccaneers are aware of that, and in fact Schiano referenced the CBA immediately in his post-practice press conference last week when addressing the Akeem Spence fight.

The fight between Akeem Spence and Jeremy Zuttah itself is unlikely to lead to any sanctions. Spence and Zuttah were pulled apart and Spence was immediately instructed that no contact was allowed. But if contact was present at other points during this practice on a more structural basis, then the Bucs could see their practice time in the future diminished.

It's easy to pretend that this is all part of becoming a more physical football team, but that's a nonsensical attitude. The Buccaneers have to deal with the same restrictions every other NFL team has to deal with, and there are good reasons to minimize contact during the offseason. More importantly, it's not really necessary to have contact at practices, either. Bill Walsh famously sought to practice with as little contact as possible, and that attitude is far from unique among NFL coaches.

Let's keep in mind one thing, though: we don't know the extent of contact at OTAs so far, and we don't know whether any rules were broken.

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