Amid reports that the NFL is poised to discipline the Patriots for Spygate 2 within the next two weeks, the NFL has issued a statement to the contrary.
“The investigation is ongoing and there has been no discussion of any potential discipline,” the league said in a statement. “Any suggestion of potential discipline or a timeline on an announcement is pure speculation.”
The procedure consists of NFL security completing its report, followed by a discussion about discipline. The report from NFL security has not yet been completed.
The Patriots promptly admitted that a video crew violated league rules by capturing images of the Bengals’ sideline in a December game against the Browns, one week before the Patriots literally were on to Cincinnati. The only remaining question is the punishment to be imposed.
Adam Schefter of ESPN suggested on Saturday that two prior incidents will provide the basis for the discipline: The suspension of Browns G.M. Ray Farmer for four games and a $250,000 fine for the team due to in-game texting to the sidelines; and the forfeiture of a fifth-round pick, a $350,000 team fine, and a suspension of team president Rich McKay from the Competition Committee after the Falcons used fake crowd noise at the Georgia Dome.
Mark Maske of the Washington Post previously had included other recent incidents within the bucket of potentially comparable penalties. Maske more recently reported that the NFL has yet to find evidence of a connection between the Patriots employees who videotaped the Bengals sideline in violation of league rules and New England football operations.
If the comparable incidents ultimately become the Browns’ texting violation and the Falcons’ crowd-noise incident, the biggest distinction between the penalties is the forfeiture of a draft pick. Absent proof of a connection between the video crew and Patriots’ football operations, the punishment should be a fine at most, since there was never any potential strategic benefit to be gained.