Monday, 12 March 2012 11:41
New Orleans Saints: Brees Believes, Free Agency Disrupts, Greg Williams, Payton Find Fate
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colstonSAINTS FREE AGENTS:  The New Orleans Saints will likely be looking at quite a number of new players as the Free Agency clock ticks.  The question many are asking is whether the team can garner some talent as some of the big names get out of Dodge. Here are the Saints' unrestricted free agents to hit the open market on Tuesday: G Carl Nicks, WR Marques Colston, WR Robert Meachem, WR Courtney Roby, TE Tory Humphrey, TE John Gilmore, T Pat McQuistan, CB Tracy Porter, CB Leigh Torrence, DT Aubrayo, DT Shaun Rogers, LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar, DE Jeff Charleston , and K John Kasay.


Jim  Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Rams expect to learn the fate of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams this week. Unless NFL commissioner Roger Goodell plans to hand out punishment in piecemeal fashion, this means that all of the other various sanctions like on Saints coach Sean Payton, GM Miceky Lomis and the Saints organization itself will come out this week, too.

As to Williams, Mike Florio of writes he's heard there's support within the league for a lifetime ban. There's also concern that a banishment would not survive a legal challenge under the antitrust laws on which players relied a year ago today, after shutting down the union and wiping out the league's mufti-employer labor exemption. In something close to English, the NFL consists of 32 separate businesses and if they band together and refuse to employ Williams, the NFL could be violating the antitrust  laws...

FORMER Saints receivers coach Curtis Johnson, now head coach at Tulane, says he didn't know anything about a bounty program. Saints quarterback Drew Brees has said the same thing...Peyton Manning has left Phoenix after a 6 1/2-hour meeting with Cardinals officials and Miami is his next stop. He plans to announce his next team by Tuesday...'s Larry Holder reports this conversation that has DT Sedrick Ellis asking G Carl Nicks on Twitter: "What's all the sadness about bro?" Nicks replied: "u know.  I might not be coming back." S Roman Harper chimes in, tweeting: I ain't trying to hear that big home. " Nicks replied: "I know, but that's how it's looking." Nicks is a UFA (unrestricted free agent) and has said he's going to be playing elsewhere next season."...

WVUE-TV reported on Sunday that Saints owner Tom Benson and coach Sean Payton were in Manhattan over the weekend. Speculation is they are there to meet with NFL officials regarding the alleged "play for performance" bountygate scheme. Saints quarterback Drew Brees took to his website to issue his statement on the bounty scandal. He said he had no knowledge of the practice taking place on the team.

Here is his statement:..

This has been an eventful offseason for me and my family. Brittany and I would like to thank all of you for the thoughtful words and well wishes since we announced that baby boy #3 is on the way. While we were all disappointed with the way the season ended, the offseason has given us the opportunity to reflect back on what was a truly memorable year. It has also given me the opportunity to enjoy some much needed quality time with my family.

I do feel a responsibility to my teammates, the Saints organization and to the fans, to address the "Bounty" allegations.

There is no place in the National Football League, or any sport played at any level, for players to conspire, to be coerced, or to be incentivized to intentionally injure another player. I did not participate in any Bounty program, nor did I have any knowledge relating to its real existence. I have spent the last several years as an Executive Committee Member of the NFLPA making health and safety a priority and I am proud of the advancements we've made and will continue to make.

As a leader of our football team, I feel comfortable in stating that I know well the integrity of our organization from the ownership level, to management, our head coach, and the players on our team. We, as Saints players, pride ourselves on playing this game with honor and hold ourselves to a very high standard. We also share a great sense of responsibility to our community and to each other, a strong belief in our purpose, a resiliency to overcome adversity and a work ethic and commitment to leave things better than we found them. 

The accusations and perceptions alone created by this issue make us feel like we should all apologize to the young people that love our game and aspire to be in our shoes. Regardless of the outcome of the "bounty" issue, we owe it to them to provide the best example of how to behave as professionals and more importantly, as people of integrity.

To our fans, please reserve judgment until the investigation is complete and the facts in their entirety are known. We are all working diligently to find the truth in this matter and if the facts prove there was improper behavior, we will hold ourselves accountable. Until that time, we will stand together and remain united as an organization.

Thank you for your support.

Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  


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