If any NFL team decides to violate the league's concussion protocol in 2016, there's going to be some serious repercussions.

The NFL and the NFLPA announced on Monday that Roger Goodell has been given "absolute discretion" when it comes to punishing teams that violate the league's protocol.

The NFL's concussion protocol became a hot topic in November after Rams quarterback Case Keenum had his head slammed against the ground late in the fourth quarter of a game against the Ravens. Despite the fact that Keenum clearly looked concussed, the quarterback was allowed to stay in the game.

After the game, the NFL investigated the situation with the goal of trying to find out why Keenum was allowed to re-enter the game.

Although Goodell would later admit that the Rams could've done a better job, the team wasn't punished for the incident.

"For clarity, we have the spotter upstairs that is a former athletic trainer and their job is, if they see a player that's in some type of distress, is to buzz down," Goodell said in December. "In the Case Keenum case, it was clear that there was somebody giving him medical attention and that that was already done. The problem we had was that the appropriate medical attention wasn't given and there were several gates that, frankly, failed and didn't do the right things for our protocol. So we're trying to make changes to that."

The tweak that was implemented on Monday will have both the NFL and NFLPA each designating a representative to monitor the implementation of the protocol and investigate potential violations.

If a team violates the league's protocol, they'll potentially be facing a serious punishment.

From the NFL, here's the list of potential disciplinary actions:

  • A first violation will require the club employees or medical team members involved to attend remedial education; and/or result in a maximum fine of $150,000 against the club.
  • Second and subsequent violations of the concussion protocol will result in a minimum fine of $100,000 against the club.
  • In the event the parties agree that a violation involved aggravating circumstances, the club shall be subject, in the first instance, to a fine no less than $50,000. The Commissioner shall determine appropriate discipline for subsequent violations involving aggravating circumstances.
  • In the event that the Commissioner determines that the club's medical team failed to follow the protocol due to competitive considerations, the Commissioner may require the club to forfeit draft pick(s) and impose additional fines exceeding those amounts set forth above.

Basically, a team could be hit with a $150,000 fine for its first offense. The most serious punishment would involve the potential loss of a draft pick. As noted, that would only happen if Goodell thought a team violated concussion protocol for "competitive reasons."

For instance, if Aaron Rodgers suffered a concussion in a playoff game and the Packers knew they couldn't win without him, so they put him back in the game, they would likely be hit with the most severe punishment.

The new protocol will be implemented beginning with the 2016 NFL season.