Jonathan Vilma isn’t the only member of the New Orleans Saints defense under former coordinator Gregg Williams that is in the crosshairs of the NFL’s investigation.
Defensive end Will Smith and safety Roman Harper are also “featured prominently” in the investigation, according to NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora.
The next step in the process will be for commissioner Roger Goodell to hand out discipline to players involved. He’s hammered the Saints, Williams, Saints coach Sean Payton, Saints linebackers coach Joe Vitt and Saints general manager Mickey Loomis. Given the severity of punishments handed out to them, it’s hard to imagine Goodell will go lightly on the players.
While Saints quarterback Drew Brees says the NFL has yet to provide “meaningful evidence” of a pay-to-injure scheme, the NFL obviously believes it has all the evidence it needs. The guess here is Williams will be led to provide plenty of meaningful information if the league calls. For Williams to be reinstated one day, he will need to cooperate with Goodell every step of the way.
The initial report said 22 to 27 players could be involved. Stay tuned. This one is going to get much more interesting and the end result could be an even more challenging season for the Saints franchise.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune