It’s bad enough that Roger Goodell levied an extremely harsh sentence on Sean Payton, but the waiting game on player suspensions makes it even worse. We already know Goodell is going to punish the team even more by laying down players suspensions, but it’s the delay of that inevitability that is starting to cause even more problems. If, God forbid, these suspensions get announced after the draft, it’s even more of an issue for the Saints. Quite simply, the anticipation of what’s to come and the uncertainty of how bad it will be make it extremely difficult to plan and cushion the blow.
Right now, we know Jonathan Vilma is almost without question getting suspended. Reports have come out that he’s bracing himself for anywhere from 2 weeks to 8 weeks suspension. My gut feeling is it will be every bit of the higher end of that scale. Luckily the Saints have been very active in the linebacker department in free agency, so you have to feel ok they can handle time without Vilma thanks to the new recruits. Will Smith and Roman Harper are two other names that have surfaced in the last week as being high at risk players of getting suspended, but so far they haven’t had the explosive evidence attached to their name like Vilma and the $10,000 bounty on Brett Favre. But the reason the Saints need to know most desperately is the NFL draft is an opportunity to draft players at positions they may end up being thin at defensively. If they don’t know who is getting suspended and for how long, they may draft differently, and ultimately it could have a consequence on their depth at some positions. Bottom line is this is just another opportunity for Roger Goodell to drop the hammer on the Saints and it looks like he may do it. As fans we know this is coming, so we just have to hope the organization is better prepared to deal with these suspensions by being informed of the penalties BEFORE the draft.
If the penalties get announced after the draft, this is Goodell once again plastering the Saints. I certainly don’t think the Saints deserve his sympathy and he doesn’t owe us a solid. Don’t get me wrong. But Goodell can either realize he’s already depleted the Saints and take it easy on them, or he can take yet another opportunity to set them back further. The decision is almost entirely his and the team has no say, they can only accept his decision. As fans, this time we need to root he’ll show a little mercy. I won’t be holding my breath.