There was a significant overnight development in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty program story that could be the first thing close to a compromise between the team and the National Football League.
There reportedly is an offer on the table for New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma to have his season-long suspension reduced to eight games. The deal is contingent upon Vilma dropping his defamation lawsuit against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
I think Vilma should grab this deal and run with it, because it would be somewhat of a victory for him and it could help lead to reductions in the shorter suspensions for New Orleans defensive end Will Smith, Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita and Green Bay defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove. It also would end a legal battle and a war of words that has dragged on far too long.
Vilma could salvage half a season, and that’s significant when you’re a player who is coming off a knee injury and is nearing the end of his career. It also would mean he could collect his salary for half a season, which would be a lot better than not getting paid for an entire season.
Would a reduced suspension be vindication for Vilma? Not totally. He’d still be out for a substantial period of time. But his name is going to be associated with this saga forever no matter what.
Vilma’s been fighting to clear his name, and taking the NFL’s compromise wouldn’t accomplish that. But it still might be the best possible outcome for Vilma.
Numerous legal experts have said there’s very little chance Vilma will win his defamation suit. Goodell hasn’t been willing to back off of anything else in this whole matter, but he’s showing flexibility now.
Vilma should grab the offer, because it’s probably his best-case scenario.