Now that the most valuable free agents are off the market and the 2012 NFL Draft is over, Roger Goodell has handed down the bounty punishments for guilty New Orleans Saints players. Contrary to earlier fears about 22-27 Saints players being involved in the bounty program, only four were suspended. And two no longer play in New Orleans.
Scott Fujita: three games
One of the former Saints players suspended by the NFL is Scott Fujita. The LB was a team leader in New Orleans from 2006-09. Now with the Cleveland Browns, Fujita's suspension is one of those being decried by Saints haters. They only wanted to see current New Orleans players suspended. This illogical hypothesis proves my point that most NFL fans don't care about player safety. They only want to see the Saints get punished.
Anthony Hargrove: eight games
This player's severe bounty suspension came as a surprise to me. A DE in New Orleans in 2009 and 2010, Hargrove will serve his suspension as a member of the Green Bay Packers. The Browns and Packers can't be happy with the NFL for waiting so long to issue these bounty suspensions. But the Packers in particular could not have expected such a stiff suspension for this former Saint. However, Hargrove probably won't be a starter in Green Bay.
Will Smith: four games
Will Smith is one of the current Saints players whom I expected the NFL to suspend. In recent years, Smith's productivity has declined, so his penalty for participating in the bounty program can be overcome by New Orleans. In the last two years combined, Smith only has 12 sacks and 75 tackles. Last year, backup DE Junior Galette recorded 4.5 sacks in limited play for New Orleans. The Saints will be just fine despite Will Smith's suspension.
Jonathan Vilma: 2012 season
I hate to break this terrible news to Saints haters, but Vilma's suspension won't hurt New Orleans' defense in 2012 either. In case casual NFL fans didn't notice, the Saints have signed three strong LBs in free agency. One of the new Saints LBs is Curtis Lofton, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons. Lofton is five years younger than Vilma and in 2011 he played in five more games and notched over 100 more tackles than Vilma at MLB.
Roman Harper not suspended
Frankly, this was the best news of the day. New Orleans' hard-hitting SS was not suspended by the NFL. I had been fearful that Harper's old school playing style would have landed him within Goodell's net. However, Harper must not have been involved in the bounty scandal in a significant way. I can now look forward to Roman Harper intimidating opposing players in 2012 like he has since he entered the NFL.
New Orleans Saints outlook for 2012
The Saints defense will be vastly improved in 2012 and there's nothing more that Roger Goodell can do about it. Like it or not, the Saints are still one of the favorites to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 47 in New Orleans. Steve Spagnuolo will also bring a more grounded approach as Saints defensive coordinator.
Oh, by the way, just one more thing. Please sign Drew Brees!
Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of the New Orleans Saints. Patrick's favorite Saints season was 2009 when New Orleans won Super Bowl 44.
Howard Fendrich, "4 players suspended by NFL for Saints' bounties," yahoo.com
"Curtis Lofton," pro-football-reference.com
"Will Smith," pro-football-reference.com
"Jonathan Vilma," pro-football-reference.com
More from this contributorGame summary of Super Bowl 48
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- New Orleans Saints
- New Orleans
- Roger Goodell
- Scott Fujita