Under the NFL constitution, the Commissioner has the ability to take away or change the order of a team’s draft picks if he finds that that team has committed certain acts that violated the constitution or are otherwise detrimental to the league or alter a competitive balance.
This power has been rarely used — just a few dozen times since the NFL instituted the common draft in 1936.
The list does not include instances where the NFL commissioner essentially brokered or unilaterally declared a trade between teams. Examples of these situations excluded from this list are: (1) compensation for a 1963-74 “Rozelle Rule” free agent; (2) compensation for tampering with another team’s coach (Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick); and (3) correction of a trade error (the Redskins traded their 1973 first-rounder to two teams in two separate trades; one was changed to a 1974 first-rounder). We are including in this list instances where the commissioner swapped positions between teams when an infraction caused a competitive inequity.
If a team runs out the clock on their pick, that team may submit their selection at any time, but will drop below any team that drafts in the interim. Those cases are also not included.
Also, teams forfeit a choice in the upcoming regular draft when they make a selection in a supplemental draft. Those cases are not included here, as the team essentially is “advanced” their choice a year early.
Draft pick forfeitures and other draft-day penalties, 1936-present
The sanctions in the are numbered sequentially. Multiple picks affected by the same sanction are designated with letters, and the “&” symbol in the infraction column. *Number includes forfeited picks earlier in the same draft. For swapped or demoted picks, the number of positions penalized is a superscript negative number.
Last updated March 20, 2021, to remove Raiders (was #36) appealed sanction and to move Saints (#37) to 2022 as announced.
|1941||Bears||19 / 179||voided||Exceeded draft limit||1A||Drafted Alex Winterson. NFL constitution limited teams to taking a maximum of 20 players total; Bears had made in-season trades for Eagles’ and Steelers’ picks|
|1941||Bears||20 / 188||voided||Exceeded draft limit||1B||& Drafted Jack Odle|
|1941||Bears||21 / 194||voided||Exceeded draft limit||1C||& Drafted Hunter Corbern|
|1941||Bears||22 / 200||voided||Exceeded draft limit||1D||& Drafted David Buck|
|1952||Steelers||21 / 246||voided||Ineligible player||2||Drafted Harry Babcock. Steelers believed Babcock entered college at Georgia in 1947; George Halas protested that it was 1949, making Babcock a junior and thus ineligible for draft; registrar at Georgia had made “1947” typo|
|1964||Cowboys||18 / 241||voided||Ineligible player||3||Drafted Theo Viltz, junior|
|1970||Saints||13 / 322||voided||Ineligible player||4||Drafted Ralph Miller, junior (played at NAIA California Lutheran in 1971, was at Alabama State in 1969)|
|1970||Oilers||16 / 404||voided||Ineligible player||5||Drafted Chris Myers, junior|
|1976||Bears||6 / 165||forfeited||Tampering (WFL)||6||hired Florida Blazers (WFL) coach Jack Pardee, who then tried to recruit six of his former players in violation of NFL embargo on signing players under contract to WFL (docked in Feb. 1975)|
|1976||Giants||6 / 170*||forfeited||Tampering (WFL)||7||WFL tampering (exact parameters unknown)|
|1976||Redskins||7 / 201*||forfeited||Tampering (WFL)||8||WFL tampering (exact parameters unknown)|
|1976||Jets||10 / 274*||forfeited||Signing violation (WFL)||9||improperly signed former WFL WR Leland Glass|
|1976||Falcons||10 / 276*||forfeited||Tampering (WFL)||10||WFL tampering (exact parameters unknown)|
|1976||Redskins||14 / 393*||voided||Ineligible player||11||Drafted Quinn Buckner who still had college eligibility under NFL rules at the time. Buckner drafted by Lions in 1976 supplemental draft and 7th overall in NBA draft. Similar eligibility issue also affected Redskins selection of Bryan Fryer (8/234*), which the NFL eventually allowed due to his eligibility (and signed contract) in the CFL.|
|1977||Oilers||5 / 122||forfeited||Signing infraction||12||“disciplinary reasons resulting from signing infractions”|
|1978||Packers||4 / 90||forfeited||Tryout violation||13||worked out prospects at colleges other than prospects’ own; punishment not handed down until day of draft|
|1979||Vikings||3 / 72||forfeited||Stashing||14||paid former Bucs LB Paul Harris to practice with team without Harris being under contract|
|1979||Steelers||3 / 84*||forfeited||Contact drill violation||15||used shoulder pads in contact drills in May training camp|
|1979||Rams||5 / 137*||forfeited||Workout violation||16||workout violation (details unknown)|
|1979||Patriots||7 / 193*||forfeited||Tryout violation||17||illegally tried out WR Terry Anderson|
|1980||Eagles||3 / 80||forfeited||Stashing||18||lodged and paid expenses for non-roster punters Rick Engels and Mitch Hoopes during 1978 training camp|
|1980||Raiders||4 / 101*||forfeited||Stashing||19A||“evasion of the player limit” in 1978|
|1981||Broncos||3 / 69||forfeited||Stashing||20||allowed veteran DB Billy Thompson to play in August 9, 1980, exhibition game before he signed a new contract (old contract had expired before the 1980 season)|
|1981||Raiders||5 / 140*||forfeited||Stashing||19B||&|
|1986||Patriots||3 / 82||forfeited||Stashing||21||placed WR Derwin Williams on injured reserve for all of 1984 with fake “concussion”|
|1995||Panthers||2 / 64||forfeited||Tampering (coach)||22A||interviewed Steelers DC Dom Capers before season ended; 2 bonus expansion selections forfeited|
|1995||Panthers||6 / 209*||forfeited||Tampering (coach)||22B||&|
|2001||Steelers||3 / 80||forfeited||Salary cap violation||23||salary cap violation involving Will Wolford in 1998; made undisclosed commitment to pay Wolford without including it in his contract|
|2001||49ers||5 / 141*||forfeited||Salary cap violation||24A||salary cap violations involving Jim Druckenmiller, Lee Woodall, Brent Jones, and Steve Young|
|2002||Broncos||3 / 85||forfeited||Financial violation||25A||failed to submit $22 million in timely fashion to NFL’s deferred compensation fund during 1998 and 1999|
|2002||49ers||3 / 93*||forfeited||Salary cap violation||24B||&|
|2005||Broncos||3 / 90||forfeited||Financial violation||25B||&|
|2008||Patriots||1 / 31||forfeited||Conduct detrimental||26||Spygate|
|2008||49ers||3 / 71*||swapped–5||Tampering||27A||contacted Bears LB Lance Briggs’s agent without Bears’ permission; 49ers moved to #76*|
|2008||49ers||5 / 142*||forfeited||Tampering||27B||&|
|2011||Lions||5 / 140||swapped–14||Tampering||28A||tampered with Chiefs S Jarrad Page; Lions moved to #154, subsequently traded pick to Seahawks|
|2012||Saints||2 / 45||forfeited||Conduct detrimental||29A||Bountygate|
|2012||Lions||6 / 191*||forfeited||Tampering||28B||&|
|2013||Saints||2 / 13||forfeited||Conduct detrimental||29B||&|
|2016||Patriots||1 / 29||forfeited||Conduct detrimental||30A||Deflategate|
|2016||Chiefs||3 / 91*||forfeited||Tampering||31A||made direct contact with free-agent-to-be Jeremy Maclin before signing period|
|2016||Falcons||5 / 158*||forfeited||Conduct detrimental||32||pumped fake crowd noise into the Georgia Dome during games|
|2017||Patriots||4 / 118||forfeited||Conduct detrimental||30B||& (originally from the Saints in the Brandin Cooks trade; Patriots had their own subsequently traded pick and another acquired pick, and the penalty moved to their best pick in the round.)|
|2017||Giants||4 / 130*||demoted–11||Conduct detrimental||33||illegally used walkie-talkies during a game after coach-to-QB headset stopped working; Giants moved to #141*|
|2017||Seahawks||5 / 170*||forfeited||Contact drill violation||34||violated “no-live-contact” rule during 2017 OTAs|
|2017||Chiefs||6 / 211*||forfeited||Tampering||31B||&|
|2021||Patriots||3 / 77||forfeited||Conduct detrimental||35||filmed Bengals’ sideline during Bengals-Browns game in 2019|
|2021||Raiders||—||repeat offender of league’s coronavirus protocols in 2020 (Raiders had 2 choices but traded the pick they acquired, then successfully appealed the forfeiture.)|
|2021||Vikings||7 / 242*||forfeited||Salary cap violation||36||Practice squad contract violation in 2019|
|2022||Saints||7 / ?||forfeited||Conduct detrimental||37||repeat offender of league’s coronavirus protocols in 2020|