Saints Forfeit 2022 Draft Pick and Pay Fine for Violations of League COVID Protocols

2020 was a rough year in the NFL, not only for the players but also for the fans. Not being able to go to a football game or be able to cheer with other fans next to you. This was all due to COVID. A few teams have had a lot of trouble sticking to the COVID protocols that have been in place. Now the NFL is taking action to make sure those violations are being corrected.

It was reported from NFL Network, Ian Rapoport: The Saints will forfeit their sixth-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft and be fined $700,000 for the NFL-NFLPA COVID protocols during the 2020 season.

The Saints are one of the teams that have had a lot of issues with following the NFL COVID Protocols. The NFL-NFLPA COVID protocols state that:

“During games, all coaches and staff members in the bench area are required to wear masks.” Masks are required for all team and league personnel, players included, while they are traveling to and from games, and are also required inside all team facilities with the exception of practices and workouts.”

The Saints first discovered that the NFL would place fines when they were fined $250,000, and head coach Sean Payton was fined $100,000 for failing to properly wear face coverings during week 2 of the 2020 season. This again would fall under the first example during games, and masks must be worn by all coaches and staff members in the bench area.

The Saints again discovered that the NFL would keep applying fines when they were fined $500,000 when the team had a maskless locker room celebration following a week 9, 38-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It doesn’t stop there with the violations.

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The NFL reported in February that the Saints were facing a third punishment for a COVID violation involving running back Alvin Kamara. Kamara was talking with a person that was not employed by the franchise without his mask on. After that interaction, Kamara tested positive for COVID back in December, which caused him to miss the week 17 regular-season finale.

There was talk around the NFL that the Saints were going to lose a seventh-round draft pick in the 2021 draft for violating Covid-19 protocols, but it is turning out that the Saints will keep all their picks for now, in the 2021 draft. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy reported it, and the Saints will lose a pick in next year’s draft. The league did not explain why the Saints will not lose picks this year, but it appears that the Saints appealed the discipline and got back the draft picks as part of the appeals process.

It now begs the question that with the Saints losing the 2022 sixth-round pick, a team like the Raiders will also lose a pick for their role in complicating the season. The Raiders have already been fined $800,000, but it is unclear if they will lose any draft picks as well. Some of the Raiders’ reported infractions were coach Jon Gruden not wearing a mask properly on the sideline. The team allowed an uncredentialed employee access to the locker room following a game, and players are appearing maskless and mixing with the crowd at tight end Darren Waller’s charity event.

Now that the league has put this punishment on the Saints, it does hint that one is potentially coming to the Raiders. Nothing but time can tell if that is going to occur or not. If it doesn’t, Commissioner Goodell can expect to hear from Saints owner Gayle Benson regarding the matter if he hasn’t already.

It’s unknown at this moment if the Saints will fight this punishment from the NFL, but for sure, there will be updates if they do.