The Kansas City Chiefs' appeal of anti-tampering violations was denied by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday, a decision that drew a strong rebuke from influential owner and team chairman Clark Hunt.
Kansas City will forfeit its third-round pick in next week's draft and its sixth-round pick next year, though its $250,000 fine was reduced to $200,000 and coach Andy Reid's fine was reduced from $75,000 to $60,000.
The Chiefs were found to have had direct communication with then-free agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who had been drafted by Reid in Philadelphia, during the league's negotiating period. That communication is considered a violation of the NFL's tampering rules.
While the Chiefs have never denied the tampering charges, they maintained that the penalties handed down last month were inconsistent with those levied in similar cases.
"We appreciate the opportunity to make our appeal on this matter, and we acknowledge the minor reduction in fines," Hunt said in a statement Monday. "However, we continue to believe that the facts of this case combined with the league's inconsistent enforcement of its tampering policies do not warrant the most severe penalty for player-related tampering in league history."
In 2008, the San Francisco 49ers were found guilty of tampering with Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs by contacting his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, during the season without the Bears' permission. The 49ers were stripped of their fifth-round pick and had to swap third-round choices with Chicago as penalties.
Three years later, the Chiefs accused Detroit of tampering when ex-coach Gunther Cunningham — then the Lions' defensive coordinator — said he would be interested in signing players Kansas City released. The Lions lost their sixth-round pick and had to swap fifth-round picks with the Chiefs.
Last year, the New York Jets were fined $100,000 for tampering after owner Woody Johnson said he'd "love to have Darrelle (Revis) back" when the cornerback was still a member of the New England Patriots.
NFL vice president Troy Vincent said the penalties levied against Kansas City 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."
The Chiefs have no further options under the league's appeal process.
Maclin declined to discuss the case in detail Monday when he reported to the Chiefs' practice facility for the start of their offseason program, though he did say he was "shocked in a way" by the penalties.
"It's been a weird situation," said Maclin, who appeared to validate his $55 million, five-year contract by catching a career-high 87 passes for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns last season.
"You have to take responsibility for what we do," Maclin said. "Stats aren't going to justify what happened with the whole situation. .... As far as me and my situation, I did what I could to help the team."