What is an OTA violation in the NFL?

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Every team in the NFL participates in OTAs (Organized Team Activities) every offseason. Teams are given a set of rules to follow during OTAs that differ from the rules they have to follow during annual training camp. For example, there are restrictions on if and when players can wear pads and helmets, and there’s a certain period kept aside for practice and film study.

This week, the NFL fined the Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers for OTA violations in the offseason. The NFL has not released the specifications of these violations just yet.

What types of OTA violations are teams fined for?

OTAs should include no more than ten practices during the designated three-week period. Each team is allowed a maximum of three OTA practices in each of the first two weeks. Teams can then hold up to four OTA practices in the final week. If a team exceeds the maximum number of practices, a fine is levied on the franchise.

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Helmets, knee and elbow pads and any necessary braces are allowed during OTA practices. Teams are prohibited from wearing shoulder pads during OTAs, which has led to a decrease in injuries in the preseason. Teams that host practices fully padded up are subsequently fined.

Along with the no-shoulder-pad rule, there is also a no-contact rule that is to be followed. Players are allowed to run routes and other drills but there can’t be any tackles, sacks or any other form of contact. There has been speculation that the Jaguars may have broken either the shoulder-pad or the no-contact rule.

2021 Team OTA violations

The Jacksonville Jaguars were fined $200,000 and head coach Urban Meyer was fined $100,000 by the NFL. The Jaguars will also lose two first-week OTA practices in 2022 for violating the terms this season. The Jaguars were punished with the heaviest fines of all three teams.

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The Dallas Cowboys, meanwhile, were fined $100,000 and head coach Mike McCarthy was fined $50,000. The Dallas Cowboys will lose one OTA practice in the first week of 2022.

The San Francisco 49ers were fined $100,000 and head coach Kyle Shanahan was levied with a $50,000 fine. The 49ers were also forced to cancel the final week of OTAs this season due to these violations.


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