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Draft pick forfeitures and penalties

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 35 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 Nov. 6, 2020, to add Raiders (35)

Year Team Rd/Pk Action Violation # Infraction
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)
1977 Oilers 5 / 122 forfeited Signing infraction 11 “disciplinary reasons resulting from signing infractions”
1978 Packers 4 / 90 forfeited Tryout violation 12 worked out prospects at colleges other than prospects’ own; punishment not handed down until day of draft
1979 Vikings 3 / 72 forfeited Stashing 13 paid former Bucs LB Paul Harris to practice with team without Harris being under contract
1979 Steelers 3 / 84* forfeited Contact drill violation 14 used shoulder pads in contact drills in May training camp
1979 Rams 5 / 137* forfeited Workout violation 15 workout violation (details unknown)
1979 Patriots 7 / 193* forfeited Tryout violation 16 illegally tried out WR Terry Anderson
1980 Eagles 3 / 80 forfeited Stashing 17 lodged and paid expenses for non-roster punters Rick Engels and Mitch Hoopes during 1978 training camp
1980 Raiders 4 / 101* forfeited Stashing 18A “evasion of the player limit” in 1978
1981 Broncos 3 / 69 forfeited Stashing 19 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 18B &
1986 Patriots 3 / 82 forfeited Stashing 20 placed WR Derwin Williams on injured reserve for all of 1984 with fake “concussion”
1995 Panthers 2 / 64 forfeited Tampering (coach) 21A interviewed Steelers DC Dom Capers before season ended; 2 bonus expansion selections forfeited
1995 Panthers 6 / 209* forfeited Tampering (coach) 21B &
2001 Steelers 3 / 80 forfeited Salary cap violation 22 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 23A salary cap violations involving Jim Druckenmiller, Lee Woodall, Brent Jones, and Steve Young
2002 Broncos 3 / 85 forfeited Financial violation 24A 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 23B &
2005 Broncos 3 / 90 forfeited Financial violation 24B &
2008 Patriots 1 / 31 forfeited Conduct detrimental 25 Spygate
2008 49ers 3 / 71* swapped–5 Tampering 26A contacted Bears LB Lance Briggs’s agent without Bears’ permission; 49ers moved to #76*
2008 49ers 5 / 142* forfeited Tampering 26B &
2011 Lions 5 / 140 swapped–14 Tampering 27A tampered with Chiefs S Jarrad Page; Lions moved to #154, subsequently traded pick to Seahawks
2012 Saints 2 / 45 forfeited Conduct detrimental 28A Bountygate
2012 Lions 6 / 191* forfeited Tampering 27B &
2013 Saints 2 / 13 forfeited Conduct detrimental 28B &
2016 Patriots 1 / 29 forfeited Conduct detrimental 29A Deflategate
2016 Chiefs 3 / 91* forfeited Tampering 30A made direct contact with free-agent-to-be Jeremy Maclin before signing period
2016 Falcons 5 / 158* forfeited Conduct detrimental 31 pumped fake crowd noise into the Georgia Dome during games
2017 Patriots 4 / 117 forfeited Conduct detrimental 29B & (this pick originally belonged to the Saints, but was acquired in the Brandin Cooks trade and forfeited by Patriots instead of their own already traded-away 4th-round pick)
2017 Giants 4 / 130* demoted–11 Conduct detrimental 32 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 33 violated “no-live-contact” rule during 2017 OTAs
2017 Chiefs 6 / 211* forfeited Tampering 30B &
2021 Patriots 3 / ? forfeited Conduct detrimental 34 filmed Bengals’ sideline during Bengals-Browns game
2021 Raiders 6 / ? forfeited Conduct detrimental 35 repeat offender of league’s coronavirus protocols (team also acquired a pick from Washington, and will forfeit the higher one)

 

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