The growing scandal surrounding the New Orleans Saints bounty program will have numerous implications for the Saints as the league figures out what kind of punishment to dole out. However, the impact of the Saints discipline could potentially impact other teams in the league. It reaches to the point where a team like the 49ers could very well benefit from the Saints discipline. Some of the benefits will be very clear, while others involve a little or a lot of speculation.
I would imagine Commissioner Goodell will figure out the punishment in fairly short order. There have been discussions of anything from fines to suspensions to forfeiture of draft picks. The punishment is expected to be quite severe, potentially even exceeding the punishment in the Patriots SpyGate scandal, which included a hefty fine and forfeiture of a first round draft pick.
Ironically enough, the Patriots own the Saints 2012 first round pick, so any first round pick lost would be for a future year. I would think the league would consider stripping them of a 2012 pick as well for some more immediate punishment. If that happens, the 49ers will benefit as they will move up one spot in any rounds involved. It is a slightly bigger deal when it happens in the first round, but it is still a modest enough benefit.
There is also the potential for some player suspensions to result from this. Jonathan Vilma is the first name to be prominently mentioned, but he is already considered a salary cap cut candidate. This might make the decision a little bit easier. Eventually we'll find out more names as fines and/or suspensions are handed out. The timing of any suspensions will be interesting to figure out once the schedule is released next month. It may impact the 49ers, it may not.
Where it also gets interesting is with Gregg Williams, who left the Saints to become the Rams defensive coordinator. Does he get suspended? Does he get dismissed given the cloud hanging over him? I don't expect him to get fired, but I also would not be entirely surprised if that happened. Of course, if Tony Dungy is to be believed, Jeff Fisher might not have the biggest problem with the scandal.
This is only the beginning of what should be a long and detailed discussion within the league as well as outside the league in the media. We are only just beginning the trip down the rabbit hole.
And as I mentioned last night on Twitter, I'm really disappointed we haven't seen more of this since the scandal broke: