The league fined the Dallas Cowboys recently after players "mentioned getting together" with Rob Ryan, the Cowboys new defensive coordinator. According to Dallas Morning News' Gerry Fraley, the Cowboys are the fifth team to be fined with Miami, Cleveland and San Francisco being suspected. But the truth is, this isn't just a lockout issue.
The NFL released a statement which states:
"There have been rules in place for years that govern what is permissible prior to the start of the off-season program. ... Before the offseason program begins, players are permitted to use the Club's facilities on a voluntary basis subject to the following rules:
(i) such players may not receive per diem payments or workout bonuses of any kind and may not be paid or reimbursed expenses for travel, board or lodging during this period;
(ii) such players are not permitted to participate in organized workouts, practices or meetings of any kind;
(iii) the Club's strength and conditioning coaches may not direct such players' individual workouts, but may supervise use of the weight room to prevent injury, correct misuse of equipment, etc.;
(iv) such players may not be directed or supervised by position coaches during this period.'
Basically, lockout or not, these fines could have happened when the infraction took place -- anytime before offseason programs began. The only difference is that this year, the lockout is forcing the league to fine teams, perhaps to encourage players to feel completely isolated from the NFL, whereas in previous years, the league probably just looked away.
The Bengals have a new offensive coordinator right now with no viable quarterback and a group of young wide receivers. Because of the lockout, Jay Gruden will likely have to ease them into the new system, especially considering that the team's starting quarterback probably isn't even on the roster yet.