The NFL on Monday handed out punishments to the Patriots for allegedly breaking the rules by deflating footballs, and they are fairly harsh.
Tom Brady was suspended four games. The Patriots are losing their first-round draft pick in 2016 and fourth-round pick in 2017. They are also being fined $1 million.
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The fine is meaningless, but the draft picks and suspensions are significant.
We expect Brady and the players union/Patriots to fight the suspension and have it reduced to two or three games. The lack of definitive proof that Brady told the team employees to cheat would be a big factor in helping his argument.
The Patriots can probably live without a fourth-round pick in 2017, but losing a first-round pick gives them one less strong player to add to their roster. Players like Dont’a Hightower, Devin McCourty, Nate Solder and Chandler Jones were some of their first-round picks in recent years and have become cornerstones.
The Pats can still win the AFC East despite the suspension to Brady, but losing the draft pick will hurt them in the long-run. These are pretty significant penalties from the NFL, especially when you consider how many holes the Wells Report contains.