The NFL and the Patriots appear be working towards a solution to the Deflategate saga before the need for litigation -- or even an appeal, reports ESPN's Adam Schefter. The league and the team are involved in "back-channel conversations" to resolve the matter before it goes any further, a source told Schefter.
Last week, the NFL fined the Patriots $1 million, and stripped the team of a 2016 first-round pick and a 2017 fourth-round pick. The Pats have to file an appeal with the league before Friday but that could become moot if the sides work through their differences.
The report comes hours after incensed Patriots owner Robert Kraft told TheMMQB.com that he had no comment on whether the team would violate the NFL bylaws by going to court to get the sanctions overturned.
Meanwhile, the Patriots best player, quarterback Tom Brady, has been suspended four games for his role in Deflategate. Brady appealed the suspension only to have the league announce that commissioner Roger Goodell would hear that appeal. In recent cases, Goodell has appointed a third party to serve as arbitrator.
"I just get really worked up," Kraft told TheMMQB.com. "To receive the harshest penalty in league history is just not fair. The anger and frustration with this process, to me, it wasn't fair. If we're giving all the power to the NFL and the office of the commissioner, this is something that can happen to all 32 teams. We need to have fair and balanced investigating and reporting. But in this report, every inference went against us ... inferences from ambiguous, circumstantial evidence all went against us. That's the thing that really bothers me.
"If they want to penalize us because there's an aroma around this? That's what this feels like. If you don't have the so-called smoking gun, it really is frustrating. And they don't have it. This thing never should have risen to this level."
If Brady's suspension is upheld, second-year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would be under center for the first month of the season.
Kraft spoke frankly about what he expects from Garoppolo, who attempted a grand total of 27 passes as a rookie.
“My gut feeling is the same as yours,” the owner said. “He is a very hard worker, a very fine young man, but until the bullets are flying and you're out there, no one knows. Think about how many of these first-round picks, even, don't make it. He works hard and he studies hard, though.”
Kraft and Goodell are both expected to attend the owners' meetings, which start Tuesday in San Francisco.
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