The Browns have been hit with a $250K fine and general manager Ray Farmer has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2015 season, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (via Twitter). The penalties from the league come as a result of Farmer sending text messages to members of the Browns on the sidelines during games in 2014.
The NFL and executive VP Troy Vincent released the following statement on the matter, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com:
“The use of a cell phone on multiple occasions during games in 2014 by Cleveland Browns General Manager Ray Farmer was a violation of NFL rules that prohibit certain uses of electronic devices during games. Based on these violations, the Browns have been fined $250,000 and Ray Farmer will be suspended without pay for the first four regular-season games of the 2015 season. The suspension will start on midnight of the Sunday preceding the Browns’ first regular-season game and will end immediately after the Browns’ fourth regular-season game. During the period of the suspension, Farmer cannot be involved in any club matters and is prohibited from being at the Browns’ offices, practice facility, or at Browns games.
“There was no evidence in the NFL’s review that Browns ownership or any other team executives had knowledge of the prohibited conduct. Once the violation was discovered, Browns management implemented new processes to ensure future compliance.
“We appreciate the courtesy and cooperation the Browns organization extended during our inquiry.”
As Schefter reported earlier today, the Browns won’t lose a draft pick for their violations of league rules. That’s good news for the franchise, as Cleveland heads into next month’s draft in good position, armed with multiple first-round picks and fourth-round picks.