The Kansas City Chiefs were penalized Wednesday for violating the NFL's anti-tampering rules for having impermissible contact with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin during last year's free agency.
The Chiefs were stripped of their third-round pick this April and sixth-round pick next year and fined $250,000. Chiefs coach Andy Reid was also fined $75,000 and general manager John Dorsey fined $25,000.
Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said in a statement the club intends to appeal the penalties.
“While we respect Commissioner Goodell and the process, we believe that the penalties proposed in this case are inconsistent with discipline enforced in similar matters – particularly given the league's inconsistent communication of its policies on contact with potential free agents."
“As an organization, we take great care to conduct ourselves with integrity and operate within the guidelines of the NFL. We have been fully cooperative and transparent with the league in this matter, and we are disappointed with the league’s decision. I want to make it clear that I fully support the leadership of both Coach Reid and John Dorsey. We will continue to explore our options under the appeal process.”
The Chiefs are accused of having direct communication with Maclin, who played for Reid in Philadelphia, during the league's negotiating period. That communication is a violation of NFL tampering rules.
Maclin later signed a $55 million, five-year deal with Kansas City.
"While we respect Commissioner (Roger) Goodell and the process," Hunt said, "we believe that the penalties proposed in this case are inconsistent with discipline enforced in similar matters — particularly given the league's inconsistent communication of its policies on contact with potential free agents."
Hunt said the Chiefs have been "fully cooperative and transparent with the league in this matter," and added he supports the leadership of Dorsey and Reid, who were hired in January 2013.
The Chiefs are hardly the first team to be hit with tampering penalties.
In 2008, the NFL found the San Francisco 49ers guilty of tampering with Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs by contacting his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, during the season without the Bears' permission. Like Maclin, Briggs was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent that offseason.
The 49ers were forced to forfeit their fifth-round pick and swap third-round choices with Chicago.
The Chiefs have also been involved in a tampering case, albeit on the other side. They accused Detroit of tampering in 2011 when ex-Chiefs coach Gunther Cunningham, then the Lions' defensive coordinator, said he would be interested in signing players Kansas City released.
The Lions lost a sixth-round pick and had to swap fifth-round picks with the Chiefs.
Maclin was the Chiefs' biggest free-agent acquisition last year and lived up to expectations, catching a career-high 87 passes for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns. Maclin hurt his ankle in the Chiefs' wild-card win over the Texans and was a non-factor in their playoff loss to the Patriots.
NFL vice president of operations Troy Vincent said in a statement that the penalties levied against Kansas City on Wednesday were intended "to balance the seriousness of the violation of an important and longstanding competitive rule with the appropriate recognition of the club's history (of no prior offenses) and the cooperation shown by both the club and individual employees."
Vincent said the NFL was given access to all information it requested, including email and telephone records, and was given unrestricted access to interview club personnel.
"The discipline should be sufficient both to deter future violations and encourage cooperation in future investigations," Vincent said. "The assessment of discipline here accounts for the fact that the club and its personnel were fully cooperative and forthcoming in the investigation."
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