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NFL needs to make a decision on Saints player discipline


On Monday, Peter King wrote in MMQB that he’d be surprised if a decision on player discipline arising from the Saints’ bounty scandal isn’t issued this week. King doesn’t express beliefs absent a good reason to believe them, and so the fair inference is that the league had planned to announce something by the end of the day on Friday, but ultimately didn’t.

Regardless of why the decision on player discipline hasn’t been announced, the NFL shouldn’t delay it any longer. Already hamstrung by the loss of their head coach for the season and their G.M. for eight games and their interim head coach for six games, the Saints’ draft plans could be impacted by the question of whether one or more of their key defensive players, like linebacker Jonathan Vilma, will be available for all or part or any of the 2012 season.

To the extent that members of the team’s defense from 2009 through 2011 have scattered throughout the league, their current employers also need to know what’s going on. On Friday, for example, the Broncos cut starting cornerback Andre’ Goodman, and his job presumably will go to former Saints starter Tracy Porter.

Though it’s possible the Broncos received word privately from the league office that Porter is safe, the Saints and any team that employs a former Saint need to know ASAP what the penalties will be.

Of course, even if the discipline is announced before the draft, the players’ appeal rights could ultimately soften the blow. At a minimum, however, the teams should know as far in advance of the draft as possible whether and to what extent draft strategy will be affected by possible suspensions.