In both 2013 and 2012, there were 31 arrests during that same period — including Aaron Hernandez on murder charges last year.
As much as the NFL can breathe a sigh of relief over the steep decline in arrests, however, the Ravens' portion of that total taints the picture.
Five of the 21 arrests have been Ravens players. They include one of the highest-profile incidents, running back Ray Rice allegedly assaulting his then-fiancee in February, and one of the most recent, cornerback Jimmy Smith for disorderly conduct at a suburban restaurant two weekends ago.
The Ravens veterans begin reporting to camp Tuesday, with the first full-squad workouts set for Thursday. It’s certain the barbed words of coach John Harbaugh from OTAs and minicamps will be ringing in their ears.
Harbaugh said in May he was “disappointed in some of the silliness that’s going on” and added: "Discipline is not like a light switch. You can’t just walk out of this building and all of the sudden turn it off and then go out back here and turn it on. … It’s pretty hard to be successful in any walk of life without great self-discipline. When it starts showing up in other areas of your life, to me, that’s a major red flag for where you’re going as a football player."
Harbaugh said that less than a week after Rice’s disastrous press conference following his indictment and some six weeks before Smith's arrest. The other players arrested were wide receiver Deonte Thompson for possession (his case was later dropped), offensive lineman Jah Reid for battery (he received pre-trial intervention, as was Rice) and rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro for public drunkenness and destruction of property.
The rest of the NFL combined for 16 arrests across 13 teams. The 49ers, Rams and Bills, with two each, are the only others with more than one — Marcell Dareus has both arrests for the Bills.
The much-welcomed decline may have been simply a leveling off after the recent two-year spike. But the increased emphasis on player development and engagement after last offseason can’t be ruled out.
The spike in arrests, along with the bullying incident in Miami and debates over on-field slurs and the inevitable arrival of openly-gay players, drove a re-tooling of the annual rookie symposium and the message to players about living up to a higher personal and professional standard.
With all of that, though, Harbaugh was left with no choice but to supplement the NFL’s message with one of his own to his Ravens players, the exception to an improved offseason.