The New England Patriots are expecting to see league discipline for the sideline taping violation against the Cincinnati Bengals, with a new report indicating that the team is expected to learn its penalties sometime in the next two weeks.
It was not clear yet what kind of discipline the NFL could institute for the violation, but ESPN's Adam Schefter noted on Twitter that it would be considered a gameday violation. As Sports Illustrated noted, the punishment could end up being similar to what the Atlanta Falcons faced after admitting to piping in crowd noise during games. The Falcons were fined a total of $350,000 and lost a fifth-round pick for the offense.
The Patriots had already acknowledged that they committed a game day violation while the team was filming a segment on its advance scout back in December, during which the crew taped the sidelines of the Cincinnati Bengals including the team's substitution packages. The team later released a statement saying it turned over the footage and cooperated with the league on its investigation.
"When questioned, the crew immediately turned over all the footage to the league and cooperated fully," the Patriots said in a statement posted on Twitter on Dec. 9. "We accept full responsibility for the actions of our production crew at the Browns-Bengals game."
The taping took place one week ahead of the Patriots facing the Bengals, and footage later released showed that the Patriots video crew took extended footage of the Bengals sidelines, including focusing on substitution packages.It appears that the Patriots may have avoided the worst possible outcomes, which would be significant fines and the potential of losing top draft picks. The league instituted similar fines on the Patriots for the original Spygate scandal, where the team was caught taping the sidelines signals of the New York Jets and faced what at the time were the largest fines ever instituted by the NFL.
A report from The Washington Post noted that the league already determined that Patriots coach Bill Belichick had no hand in the illegal taping of the Bengals sidelines. The Patriots had already claimed that the taping of the "Do Your Job" segment had no connection to the team's football operations, and the league's investigation seems to have verified that.
A game day violation would also likely mean that the NFL is not treating the Patriots as repeat offenders, so the past Spygate scandal will have no bearing on the punishment for the latest offense.