According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, the NFL is likely going to announce disciplinary measures for the Atlanta Falcons and Cleveland Browns at some point this week. The Falcons are being investigated for pumping artificial crowd noise into the Georgia Dome when their opponents were on offense during their home games in the 2012 and 2013 seasons. The Browns, on the other hand, are being investigated for illegal communications stemming from their 2014 “Textgate” scandal. Both “integrity of the game” investigations have been ongoing since the end of the season, and if the buzz around the recent NFL Scouting Combine is true, then a resolution to both should be announced in the very near future.
How harsh will the penalties be? Only league officials with knowledge of the situation can answer that, but here is a look at what to expect in terms of punishment for the Falcons and Browns based on rumblings from around the league.
[update: And now we know. The NFL has ruled that Atlanta will lose it’s 2015 draft pick and see Rich Mckay suspended from the competition committee, while Cleveland’s GM will be suspended, although the Browns will keep their draft pick]
Atlanta Falcons – False Noise, a.k.a. “Noisegate”
It was initially reported that the Falcons would likely be losing a Day 3 NFL Draft pick as punishment for streaming false noise into the Georgia Dome when their opponents had the ball. It is now being reported that the punishment may wind up being much harsher due to the fact this was a regular occurrence over a two-year period as opposed to being an isolated incident. The buzz around the recently concluded NFL Combine is that the Falcons will likely be losing a second or third round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has adamantly denied having a role in the scandal, but he, along with new head coach Dan Quinn, will be the ones feeling the wrath of the NFL’s punishment. This is coming at an especially bad time for a Falcons team that is looking to rebound from a six-win season in 2014.
Cleveland Browns – Illegal Communications, a.k.a “Textgate”
The last thing the Browns needed heading into this offseason was more controversy. As if dealing with the drama surrounding quarterback Johnny Manziel and wide receiver Josh Gordon wasn’t enough, the team is now likely to face suspensions, lose money, and lose at least one draft pick due to partaking in illegal communications. The scandal, otherwise known as Textgate, centers around Cleveland general manager Ray Farmer sending in-game text messages to members of the Browns coaching staff, which is an obvious infraction of NFL rules. The texts ranged in topics from critiquing play calls to suggesting various personnel changes, and led to former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan forcing his way out of Cleveland during the offseason.
Farmer has since apologized and taken full responsibility for Textgate, but the league is still expected to hand down a harsh punishment for the infraction. The Browns’ GM will likely face a multi-game suspension and a significant fine, and the team will likely lose a mid-round draft pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.