Buccaneers rookie linebacker Mason Foster has been fined $20,000 for an illegal hit on Patriots receiver Chad Ochocinco in last week’s preseason game.
The possibility of Foster getting fined drew a great deal of attention after Ochocinco offered to pay any fine himself. The NFL then said that Ochocinco would not be allowed to pay Foster’s fine, as every player has to pay his own fines.
However, it’s not quite as simple as Foster getting docked $20,000 from his Week 1 paycheck. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement protects players from excessive fines of more than 25 percent of their weekly base salary for a first offense of an on-field infraction. And since Foster’s 2011 base salary is the rookie minimum of $375,000, he won’t actually lose $20,000. Foster can appeal and get that fine reduced to 25 percent of his weekly pay of $22,058.82, which means his actual fine would be $5,514.71.
That provision of the CBA was pointed out to PFT by Cardinals kicker and players’ union representative Jay Feely last week after we pointed out the unfairness of Jaguars rookie Mike Lockley (who also makes the league minimum) getting fined the same amount as Ndamukong Suh (who makes much, much more than the league minimum). The provision makes a lot of sense, although it would make more sense to make fines a percentage of a player’s cap value, so that fines would have an equal impact on players regardless of how much money they make.
The next question is whether Ochocinco will follow through on his promise and write Foster a check fo $5,514.71. And if he does, the question after that is how much the NFL would fine a player for paying another player’s fine.