The NFL has handed down punishments to teams that were found to have violated COVID-19 protocols this year. The next up may be the New Orleans Saints, after new discoveries stemming from the Alvin Kamara situation ahead of the playoffs.
The team's star running back tested positive in early January, missing the team's final regular season game. Luckily, he was able to return and play in the Wild Card round, helping the Saints knock off the Chicago Bears. The team would fall the following weekend to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
According to NFL.com's Tom Pelissero, new surveillance footage obtained by the league shows Kamara interaction with a "person not employed by the club who turned out to be positive," ahead of his own positive test. Because this would be the third violations of safety protocols by the Saints this year, a new punishment is "likely to be the biggest yet" from the league.
The team was fined $250,000 and Sean Payton was docked $100,000 for failure to properly wear masks during the team's Week 2 game. Months later, the team was docked $500,000 and a seventh-round draft pick for the same issue stemming from a celebration after the team's Week 9, when it blew out the Buccaneers 38-3.
Based on Pelissero's report, the violations themselves certainly don't sound as blatant as some of the others during the season, for which the NFL has fined teams and docked draft picks. The third offense, however, could drive things up.
"While the discipline in this case has not yet been finalized -- and could be reduced if the Saints issue fines internally for violators -- it may end up including multiple and/or higher draft picks and an even larger fine," the NFL insider reports.
There was obviously an aspect of making examples of teams with these punishments. Considering the New Orleans Saints' season has been done for a month now, and there are only two teams still playing, it would be very tough to get hit with a significant punishment at this point.