Don’t expect the NFL to go lightly on the New England Patriots.

The league is considering imposing a “significant” punishment on the Patriots for illegally videotaping the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline last week in Cleveland, according to multiple reports. However, there is debate over what “significant” might wind up meaning in this instance.

Here’s a report from CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora:

“The New England Patriots are facing steep penalties for their admitted illegal taping of the Bengals sideline last week, league sources said, which is likely to include the loss of at least one draft pick and heavy fines. There is the possibility of a suspension for a member of upper management and/or ownership as well, sources said, pending the results of the NFL’s full investigation into the matter.

“The Patriots are repeat offenders for violating the league’s game-day operations regulations in the past — twice being stripped of first-round picks for either illegally doctoring footballs or illegally taping an opponent — which will also factor into the ultimate discipline in this case, the sources said. The NFL takes these matters very seriously and has regularly taken away draft picks and used fines and suspensions for similar infractions, whether it be illegal use of cell phones on game day (Browns) or pumping in fake crowd noise (Falcons).”

Yeah, that doesn’t sound good for the Patriots. The Washington Post’s Mark Maske offered a slightly different view, though.

Take a look:

“The NFL is likely to penalize the New England Patriots for their admitted violation of league video policy last weekend and is contemplating disciplinary measures in line with those imposed on teams in recent seasons for infractions of game-day rules, according to people familiar with the deliberations.

“That could mean a fine in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and potentially the loss or reduction in value of a draft choice, typically a lower-level pick.”

As you can see, La Canfora’s report contains far more colorful language.

In any case, it appears the Patriots are looking at some form of punishment for the actions of the “Do Your Job” film crew. If he truly had no role in all of this, Bill Belichick must be beside himself.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images