Roger Goodell sent a message to every coach and player in the NFL: safety first.
The NFL commissioner stuck with his punishments for New Orleans’s pay-for-pain bounties Monday, rejecting Saints coach Sean Payton’s appeal of an unprecedented season-long suspension. A league investigation found that, under Payton’s watch, an assistant ran a program offering cash payouts for hits that knocked targeted opponents out of games or hurt them so badly they needed help getting to the sideline.
Next on Goodell’s agenda: discipline for players involved in the bounty program that began in 2009, the season the Saints won the Super Bowl.
In addition to upholding Payton’s suspension, which begins next Monday and runs through the Super Bowl in February 2013 - by coincidence, in New Orleans - Goodell also affirmed suspensions of eight games for Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and six games for assistant head coach Joe Vitt. He also kept in place a $500,000 fine for the franchise and the loss of draft picks this year and next.
Loomis, who along with the team declined comment Monday, and Vitt begin their suspensions after the preseason ends.
Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who left the Saints in January to join the Rams, ran the bounty program and has been suspended indefinitely. He did not appeal.
The Seahawks agreed to terms with cornerback Marcus Trufant on a one-year deal. Trufant’s time in Seattle appeared over when he was released by the team with two years left on his contract on March 7. He was scheduled to make $7.2 million and $8.8 million in base salary the next two years but missed significant time the last three seasons with injuries and had his productivity slip, leading to his release. Trufant explored the market before deciding to return to the only franchise he’s ever played for . . . Broncos receiver Eric Decker said on ESPN radio that he’s been working out with new quarterback Peyton Manning for three weeks and there’s “no question’’ Manning’s arm strength is good enough to start in the NFL. Manning had neck surgery that caused him to miss the 2011 season and the Colts released the face of their franchise rather than pay him a $28 million bonus. Manning signed with the Broncos March 20.
Bucs sign Okoye
The Buccaneers signed free agent defensive tackle Amobi Okoye to a one-year deal. Okoye, entering his sixth season in the NFL, played last season with the Bears and his first four with the Texans . . . The Redskins signed free agent offensive lineman James Lee. He has played three NFL seasons, all with Tampa Bay. He started nine games at right tackle in 2010 but played in only three games last year, in part because of a knee injury . . . The Eagles signed defensive tackle Derek Landri to a one-year contract. Landri had 43 tackles and two sacks in 12 games in his first season in Philadelphia last year.