As most football fans know by now (and have been discussing on DBN), today was a big day for news in the NFL. First, there was the trade that sent Tim Tebow to the New York Jets. Then, there was the league's announcement of the initial punishments that were being doled out as a consequence of the New Orleans Saints' bounty program.
I'm not surprised that Roger Goodell handed out the punishments that he did, but just like Peyton Manning ending up with another team, when it actually happens, it has the jaw-dropping effect. I wouldn't say the Saints are screwed this year, because they have (or should have) Drew Brees under center, and that makes competing pretty easy. The Falcons and Panthers will be even tougher competition though, and not having Sean Payton on the sidelines could make a difference in the long run. In the end, those problems belong to the Saints' organization, not ours.
What could be a problem for Cleveland is if the league continues with punishments toward a player like linebacker Scott Fujita. Sports Illustrated's Peter KIng thinks it'll be difficult for the league to discipline a guy like Fujita, who has such a prominent role in the NFLPA and has been a major advocate of player safety:
One of the players who has admitted making contributions to a pay-for-performance pool, linebacker Scott Fujita, is now one of the most respected leaders of the union's 11-man Executive Board, and worked diligently to increase player safety in the 2011 negotiations for a new labor agreement with the owners. A source told Sports Illustrated earlier this month that Fujita and two other defensive leaders contributed between $2,000 and $10,000 to the performance/bounty pool the Saints defenders ran in 2009. It's likely the NFLPA would staunchly defend Fujita and other players accused by the league, and this could make the disciplining of players extremely sticky for the league.
If the league does come down hard on Fujita, that is all-the-more reason for the team to sign a cheap outside linebacker from whoever remains in free agency.
Hat tip to gentryholdem, who linked me to King's story via email.