FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The Atlanta Falcons were penalized on Thursday by the NFL for having excessive contact in offseason workouts.
The Falcons must forfeit their first three days of organized team activities in 2017 as punishment for a workout in May which involved excessive levels of on-field physical contact. Atlanta’s players will be paid for the canceled sessions.
It is the Falcons’ first violation of the rule, resulting in a less severe penalty than was given Seattle last month.
The Seahawks were fined $400,000, will lose a fifth-round draft choice and will lose a week of OTAs as penalties for their third offense. The previous offenses came in 2012 and 2014.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn was Seattle’s defensive coordinator in 2014, but said he didn’t pattern his offseason program from what he learned while with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.
“Certainly I was part of the program with Pete there, but it’s our own program here and how we want to run things,” Quinn said.
“We just love the competitive environment that we stress. But we want to make sure no matter what that we’re following the league policy and CBA guideline.”
An agreement between the NFL and the players association limits contact during offseason programs. The rule is designed for players’ safety and to prevent any team from gaining a competitive advantage.
Some leeway is allowed for incidental contact.
“Just in general more contact than they would have liked to have seen,” Quinn said when asked about the Falcons’ infraction. Quinn said he plans to explore details following the season.
“It’s a great topic and certainly one that I would like to visit during the offseason, not just with our own players but with the league, too,” he said. “I want to make sure I’m teaching the guidelines exactly as the league set.”
Quinn said he didn’t immediately address the penalty with his players as he hopes to avoid a distraction before Sunday’s game at Denver. He said it is a “better discussion” for the offseason.
It is the second time in two years the Falcons have been penalized by the league for a rules violation.
In 2015, the NFL found the Falcons pumped artificial crowd noise into the Georgia Dome in the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
The league fined the Falcons $350,000, stripped the team of its fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft and suspended Rich McKay, the team president, from the NFL competition committee for almost five months.