Saints Forfeit 2022 Draft Pick, Receive Heavy Fine

Sean Payton

Chris Graythen/Getty Images Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints speaks with officials during a game against the Minnesota Vikings on December 25, 2020.

On Saturday night the NFL announced that it “issued financial and competitive disciplinary action to the New Orleans Saints for violating league COVID-19 protocols during the 2020 season,” this according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

Specifically, the Saints will:

-forfeit a 2022 sixth-round pick, and
-pay a $700,000 fine

The league took care to note that the Saints were repeat offenders last season, “having already received two separate disciplinary actions from the league.”

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‘Multiple Violations and Warnings’

The first disciplinary action came after Week 2 of the regular season, when the Saints and Las Vegas Raiders were fined $250,000 each for failure to follow proper face-covering protocol, while head coaches Sean Payton and Jon Gruden were also fined $100,000 each.

New Orleans was subsequently fined $500,000 for its mask-less locker-room celebration following the team’s Week 9 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

According to ESPN staff writer Mike Triplett, the Saints are the only team that is losing a draft pick over COVID-19 violations, with a league source telling him that “the Saints were punished because of multiple violations and warnings, even beyond the three that were reported during the season.”

Per Triplett, one of the violations relates to “a person not employed by the team [being] spotted in proximity to players,” a transgression that was discovered “when the league reviewed video while following up on running back Alvin Kamara’s close contacts when he tested positive in December.”

Many NFL Teams Were Fined During the 2020 Season

Some of the other teams that were reportedly fined for COVID infractions during the season include the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans, the latter of whom were docked $350,000 in October for failure to comply with mask wearing requirements and “insufficient clear communication regarding workouts outside the facility.” (Titans players held an offsite workout while the team’s facility was closed during an outbreak of COVID-19 among the club’s players and coaches.)

In November Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was fined $100,000 and the team was fined $250,000 for not wearing masks during a game against the Ravens.

Other head coaches and teams that were issued financial penalties for COVID violations during the season include Vic Fangio and the Denver Broncos, as well as Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers & Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks.

Saints and Raiders Will Not Lose 2021 Draft Picks

Meanwhile, a separate report from Saturday indicates that neither the Saints nor the Raiders will lose any 2021 draft choices for COVID-19 violations, as was reported during the past season.

“Multiple reports during the regular season said that the Saints lost a seventh-round pick for a mask-less locker room celebration, and the Raiders lost a sixth-round pick for multiple violations,” notes Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk (PFT). But Smith goes on to say that “NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed to PFT that the Saints and Raiders did not have [those] draft picks taken away.”

“They are not forfeiting them,” McCarthy said. “Neither team will lose those picks.”

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