Four former and current New Orleans Saints players suspened by NFL

Dec 18, 2011; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma (51) rests along the sidelines during the game with the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome. The Saints win 42-20. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE

Bounty gate, pay for performance, or generally accepting money for “big” plays is the newest taboo currently around the NFL.

The New Orleans Saints have paid dearly for this very thing during defensive coordinator Gregg Williams tenure from 2009 to 2011.

Head coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire season, general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games.

On top of that the entire organization was fined $500,000 and forfeited two draft picks — a second round pick this year and one next year.

For weeks now players that were perceived to be involved in the bounty program have braced for discipline from the league.

That discipline has come today.

Originally it was reported that as many as 27 current and former Saints players took part in Williams bounty system knowingly, but the “primary” players targeted had always been linebacker Jonathan Vilma, defensive end Will Smith, and former linebacker Scott Fujita.

Strong safety Roman Harper’s name also surfaced as a candidate for suspension, but it looks like for now he had dodged the wrath of the NFL.

Another former Saints player has been named as defensive tackle Tony Hargrove, now with the Green Bay Packers, has been included in the latest round of suspensions.

Starting with Jonathan Vilma, he has been suspended for the entire 2012 NFL season — much like coach Sean Payton.

Vilma can take place in all off-season activities leading up to the regular season, at which point he will be forced to depart the teams facility without pay.

The Saints knew Vilma would receive the brunt of the punishment, and as such went out into free agency and signed two middle linebackers that can start right away.

Curtis Lofton, formerly of the Eagles, and David Hawthorne, who was with the Seattle Seahawks last year.

New Orleans has effectively prepared themselves for Vilma’s absence, but likewise have not done so when it comes to the loss of Smith.

Smith has been suspended without pay for the first four games of the regular season. He too can spend the preseason with the team, but will be barred from any contact with the Saints once the regular season is underway.

Without Smith in the lineup the Saints current options at right defensive end are slim considering the primary backup is undrafted free agent Junior Galette.

Galette played at Stillman college, and while he has displayed flashes of serious playmaking ability, he may not be ready to become the full time starter.

The Saints did not take a defensive end in the draft, but did select defensive tackle Akiem Hicks — who could play end — with their first pick in the third round.

Free agency doesn’t yield many better options than what the Saints have one the roster already, but the team may want to pick up the phone and give James Hall or Andre Carter a call.

Fujita, now with the Browns, will face a three games suspension without pay, and Hargrove an eight game suspension without pay.

Topics: Bounty Gate, Four Former And Current New Orleans Saints Players Suspened By NFL, Joe Vitt, Jonathan Vilma, Mickey Loomis, New Orleans Saints, NFL, Scott Fujita, Sean Payton, The Saints, Tony Hargrove, Will Smith

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  • larryjames836

    I’m glad all of this mess is behind us so we can get on with the training camp and get ready for the preseason games. I know the Saints coaches will work everything else out we are still in the Super Bowl run this year we may be down a little but we not out of the game like some the people’s wanted us to be. Thanks to Mickey Loomis and the scouts and the coaches for a job well done to all Saints and fans heads up we going forward the New Orleans Saints going to need our full support all the way to the Super Bowl we are the champion. We been through to much to let go now we have our coaches, our players who are out, our GM who will be out, the owner who have shown his support, most of all the Saints fans who are one of the biggest fans base in the NFL. Go Saints Go!!

  • DARKTHRONE

    Wow.
    Well, at least the player punishment is DONE.  Now JV has the chance to make lemonade out of lemons and get healthy.
    Wonder what happened to the entire “22-27 players”?  Besides our DE Smith, Fujita the Brown and Hargrove the Packer, I guess all of the other players are out of the league?
    Hmmmmm…..
    Anyway, I suspect the Brees deal will get done asap.
    And I suggest any team the Saints play this year better start doing their push-ups, and NOW.
    We will be a relentless force on the field this year, even more so than last year.
    Teams should fear us.
    And I’m dead serious.
    See what a motivated Drew Brees did last year?
    Now add a PISSED and motivated Brees into the equation..???
    Fear us NFL….
    Fear us.
    SAINTS WILL DESTROY
    PA

  • larryjames836

    @DARKTHRONE ; Yes the punishment is over but Roger Goodell head is still in a vise the NFLPA is still on him about the evidences now are getting ready for legal action the players are you can’t charge no one without evidences.

  • DARKTHRONE

    Larry-
    Sadly, I think we are screwed as far as any type of appeal goes.  All it does is waste time and money, and eventually falls back into the lap of Fuhrur Goodell.
    Think he’s gonna take back his own punishments?
    Nope.
    Honestly, the best news is that we didn’t lose any of our badass 2ndary.  JV was injured quite a lot last year, and we played admirable ball anyway.
    Losing 2-guys is actually “better” than I thought it was going to be.
    We will prevail my brother.
    Trust me on this.
    PA

  • LI Saint

    Well now that that’s behind us let us move on. In the appeal process the players need to take it to the court system just like the starcap players did.

  • larryjames836

    @LI Saint ; There is right it not fair to drop jugdement on someone without proof of evidences. NFLPA is doing what they suppose to do this is part of taking care of the players. Both parties are serving the same organization why is one side holding evidences from the other this tell me and the NFLPA something is wrong sometimes it takes a court to find what is right.

  • DARKTHRONE

    Damn straight LI Saint….
    All this offseason BS aside, take one look at that Saints roster (Brees will sign) and we are a SB caliber team from top to bottom, O and D.
    And I’m looking forward to silencing the PFT-like critics and their jealous brand of Saints-bashing.
    So, we’re “The Bad Guys” this year?
    Bring it on…
    That 2nd Lombardi will be even sweeter this year, from all sides of love and nature.
    SAINTS WILL DESTROY
    PA 

  • larryjames836

    @DARKTHRONE ; Who going to present the 2nd Lombardi this year Roger Goodell I hope not the fans may not let him what you think about that the WHODAT fans can get very wired up in the BIG EASY.

  • LI Saint

    I can’t wait for the season to start. Benson and Mickey need to get Brees signed right now so that we can have a real good season and put the haters to bed. The dictator (Goodell) has done what he was going to do. Let’s move on! Geaux Saints!! As a fan I am more than ready.

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