Source: New England Patriots fined $350K for COVID-19 protocol violations

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots were fined $350,000 for COVID-19 protocol violations related to positive tests of Cam Newton and others in October, a source confirmed to ESPN's Dan Graziano.

That is the same amount the NFL fined the Tennessee Titans for similar violations in late October. In the Titans' situation, there were incidences of people not wearing masks that contributed to the fine, sources had told ESPN.

NFL Network first reported the fine.

Newton's positive COVID-19 test came on Oct. 2, two days before the Patriots were scheduled to visit the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

The game was pushed back one day, Newton didn't play, and the Patriots traveled to Kansas City the morning of the game on two separate planes -- one that included about 20 players and staff members who were deemed to be close contacts to Newton, and the other with everyone else.

The day after the game, cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, tested positive for COVID-19. Gilmore had been a close contact of Newton.

That stretch has turned out to be a defining one in the Patriots' season. They were 2-1 entering the game against the Chiefs, but they lost their next four games, as the lack of practice time seemed to affect them. They also had multiple other players land on the COVID-19/reserve list over the next few weeks.

"We played pretty well the first three weeks of the season, and then I'd say we regressed over the next 2½ weeks for a combination of reasons," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said earlier on Sirius XM NFL Radio.