The Bengals should get the third-round pick the Patriots forfeited

Zac Taylor, Bill Belichick (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Zac Taylor, Bill Belichick (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots have received their punishment for filming the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline last season.

Roughly seven months after an employee of the New England Patriots was caught filming the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline, the NFL has handed down their punishment. According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Robert Craft’s club will incur $1.1M in fines, forfeit a third-round pick, and its film crew will not be allowed to shoot games in the upcoming season.

The incident occurred back in December when the Bengals traveled to Cleveland to take on the Browns. The Patriots had reserved three seats in the press box for a film crew to shoot a documentary that gave a behind the scenes look at the various responsibilities that had to be fulfilled to prepare for a game.

In this instance, the crew was taking a look at the job of an advanced scout, who was sent to watch Cincinnati face off against their in-state rivals ahead of the Patriot’s own matchup with the Bengals in the following week.

Bengals’ brass was not notified that any members of the Patriots organization would be present. Even if they were, the film crew had no business filming the Cincinnati sideline. So, when a Bengals employee noticed someone doing just that, it raised significant concern. The guilty party quickly claimed innocence, but the damage had already been done.

Patriot’s head coach Bill Belichick denied zero involvement in the incident during a press conference shortly after it had happened,

"“I heard about this and evidently, this is our production people on the TV show that were there and I have absolutely nothing to do, we have absolutely nothing to do with anything that they produce or direct or shoot. I have never even seen any of their tapes or anything else. This is something that we 100 percent have zero involvement with.”"

Apparently, that wasn’t enough to convince the league that the team shouldn’t be punished. Now, New England’s front office will have to enter next year’s draft missing a highly valuable selection.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the NFL granted Cincinnati the potential top-75 pick the Patriots have been forced to cough up? While it certainly sounds ideal to those rooting for the Bengals success and seems like it would deliver justice, the orange and black faithful shouldn’t hold their breath.

The league’s past punishments

As of recently, the NFL has turned to stripping draft selections from organizations as a form of punishment more often. In 2008, New England gave up picks in another instance of videotaping an opponent and they had to give up a first-rounder just a few years back thanks to DeflateGate.

In 2012, the Saints were forced to give up two selections for BountyGate. In 2015, the Falcons were docked picks for pumping artificial crowd noise into their stadium. That’s before even mentioning a handful of tampering cases.

Yet, through all of that, the league has never forced one franchise to hand over draft capital to another. As much as fan bases of the teams caught on the wrong side of these situations call for the NFL to take that sort of action, it’s clear the higher-ups don’t view that route as fair punishment.

That doesn’t change the fact that the Bengals should  get the draft pick. Although they were in the midst of a season that resulted in just two wins, they were in a position to suffer from a competitive disadvantage.

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For now, Cincinnati will have to accept the justice the league has deemed fit and turn their focus to the upcoming season, where they’ll attempt to claw their way out of the AFC North cellar.