Patriots representatives will be at the NFL Combine this week but the Pats won’t be scouting any first round talent.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell docked the Patriots a first round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and a fourth round pick in 2017 due to their role in last year’s deflated footballs scandal. Tom Brady had his four-game suspension wiped out late last summer when Judge Richard Berman ruled that the NFL cannot hand out player discipline for “general awareness of misconduct.” But the Patriots’ team penalty remains in place.
Patriots team owner Robert Kraft has not recently commented on if he will attempt to recover the draft picks. Kraft said the following last May.
“I don’t want to continue the rhetoric that’s gone on for the last four months,” he said. “I’m going to accept, reluctantly, what [NFL commissioner Roger Goodell] has given to us, and not continue this dialogue and rhetoric. And we won’t appeal.”
It was widely thought at the time that Kraft took the team hit because he thought Goodell would wind up going easy on Brady when it came to a suspension. But after the NFL dished out the suspension, Kraft blasted the league.
“I was wrong to put my faith in the league,” Kraft said. “Back in May, I had to make a difficult decision that I now regret. I tried to do what I thought was right. I chose not to take legal action. I wanted to return the focus to football. I have been negotiating agreements on a global basis my entire life. I know there are times when you have to give up important points of principle to achieve a greater good. I acted in good faith and was optimistic that by taking the actions I took, the league would have what they wanted. I was willing to accept the harshest penalty in the history of the NFL for an alleged ball violation because I believed it would help exonerate Tom.”
Some key members of that national football media are now calling for Goodell to reinstate the Patriots’ draft picks. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King wrote Monday that that the fact that the NFL only tested for PSI numbers in scattered games this past season was “stupid” and that it “tells the world the league never wanted to find out the effect of weather on footballs.”
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk added:
“The NFL should [reinstate the picks] but it won’t. It won’t do it because there’s no mechanism that the Patriots can use to get the picks back. The Patriots chose last year not to fight the sanctions, closing the door on any opportunity to change the outcome. So if the NFL would alter its course now, that would be a gratuity for one franchise, which would surely raise the ire of one or more of the 31 others.