The New England Patriots are preparing for next Thursday’s virtual NFL draft with 12 picks to choose from. Or it could be less.
That is the scenario hovering over the team as it awaits the punishment the NFL might deliver for a rules violation — taping the Bengals sideline without permission in a game on Dec. 8. Because the Patriots have been involved in other scandals such as Spygate and Deflategate, the NFL could theoretically hand out penalties from a large fine or even take away picks from this year’s draft.
Yet no one knows what the NFL’s decision will be, especially not the Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick. League spokesman Brian McCarthy told ProFootballTalk on Tuesday that “the matter remains under review.”
The Patriots admitted a day after the incident that a video crew member failed to inform the Bengals and the league it was taping a behind-the-scenes feature for a show called “Do Your Job” on the team’s website. The eight-minute video was recorded in the press box before the start of a Browns-Bengals game held in Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium. New England released a statement saying the video crew “inappropriately filmed the field” from that vantage point.
“There was no intention of using the footage for any other purpose,” the Patriots said in a statement last December. “We understand and acknowledge that our video crew, which included independent contractors who shot the video, unknowingly violated a league policy by filming the field and sideline from the press box.”
According to the Boston Globe in February, NFL security was close to wrapping up the investigation and sending its report to commissioner Roger Goodell. But that decision from the league has not been made public a little more than a week before the draft.
The Patriots hold the 23rd pick in the first round and traded their second-round pick to Atlanta last season for wide receiver Mohamed Sanu. It is possible the Patriots could lose some of the four compensatory picks the NFL awarded them for losing free agents such as defensive lineman Try Flower and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. Those picks would fall in the third and fifth rounds.
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