Matt Birk replaces Art Shell as appeals officer

AP

NFL players who are fined for on-field issues have a new face to argue their case in front of, but they won’t be paying more for those fines this year.

According to the Associated Press, recently retired Ravens center Matt Birk is replacing Art Shell as one of the two appeals officers.

Teams were notified this week of Birk’s joining Ted Cottrell in the role, which is jointly approved by the league and the NFLPA.

And even though the CBA allows for fine amounts to go up 5 percent per year, they won’t be increased this year, because of the declining number of penalties.

Total fines have gone down 32 percent since 2009, from 668 to 451. There were also only 61 fines for illegal hits on quarterbacks, down from 114 in 2009.

If nothing else, holding the line on fines is a peace offering, at a time when the league and the union are trying to finalize an agreement on HGH testing, which was ostensibly agreed to two years ago.