Four current and former players of the New Orleans Saints that were suspended for the bounty scandal during off-season have had their suspensions overturned courtesy of former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue according to ESPN.com:
Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has overturned the suspensions of four current and former New Orleans Saints players in the league’s bounty investigation of the club.
Current Saints players linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith as well as former linebacker Scott Frujita and defensive end Anthony Hargrove have been cleared of suspensions and penalties for their role in the New Orleans bounty scandal.
Although Tagliabue has cleared the players mentioned above, the former commissioner claims the players’ conduct was detrimental to the NFL. Fines may still be on the horizon for the four players former and current Saints players for their role in the scandal.
As for the Saints, New Orleans have suffered through a tough season as a result of the bounty scandal. The scandal severely impacted the team on the defensive side of the football with New Orleans arguably the worst defense in the NFL this season.
As if the impact on defense wasn’t enough to sway the outcome of the disappointing season for the Saints, the team also had to press on without head coach Sean Payton. The one-time Super Bowl champion was suspended for the entire 2012 season and had his contract extension with the Saints voided by the league according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter:
Within the past year, the multiyear contract extension the Saints announced for Sean Payton in September 2011 was voided by the NFL, making the suspended head coach a free agent after this season and casting questions on how long he will remain in New Orleans, according to league sources.
As a result of the voided contract, Payton will be a free agent at season’s end with an uncertain future ahead in New Orleans.
The team will likely reach out to Payton in the off-season to strike up a new deal before one of the potentially many teams around the league try to lure him away from the Saints. After signing a five-year deal worth $100 million back in July, superstar quarterback Drew Brees will probably be pulling for Payton’s return and the team failing to bring him back might result in an unhappy star quarterback moving forward.