An NFL investigation found the Saints offered cash bonuses for big hits designed to hurt and/or remove opponents from games.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Saints head coach Sean Payton for the entire 2012 season, while handing down additional suspensions of eight games to general manager Mickey Loomis and six games to assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who also coaches linebackers. The Saints, meanwhile, were fined $500,000 and docked second-round draft picks this year and next.
Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who left the Saints after last season to join the St. Louis Rams, ran the bounty program and has been suspended indefinitely. He did not appeal.
Goodell said in a statement if Payton, Loomis and Vitt "embrace the opportunity and participate in a constructive way," he would consider reducing the financial penalties on them. While none of them has been fined, each will lose significant amounts while not being paid their salaries during the suspensions.
The Saints are rumored to be attempting to lure Bill Parcells out of retirement to be head coach of the team. Parcells, a Hall of Fame finalist who turns 71 in August, has said he would consider coaching the Saints if asked to help his former prot?g?, Payton and Loomis played golf with the former NFL coach during NFL meetings in south Florida last month to talk to him about the team's predicament.
Parcells, who won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants and took the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl, has not coached since retiring from the Cowboys after the 2006 season, though he then worked in Miami's front office.
The Saints also could decide to promote from within the current staff.
The NFL has said Williams' bounty system, which ran from 2009 through 2011, offered cash payments of $1,500 for "knockouts," in which an opposing player was knocked out of a game, or $1,000 for "cart-offs," in which an opponent needed help off the field. The league has said the bounty pool grew as large as $50,000, reaching its height in the 2009 season, when New Orleans won its only Super Bowl.
The NFL has said as many as 27 players also could be sanctioned in the scandal, but it is not yet clear when that might happen, creating additional uncertainty for New Orleans and some teams that have signed former Saints defensive regulars as they tried to build their 2012 rosters.
In released tapes, former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams can be heard encouraging players to "hurt" 49-ers players before a playoff game against San Francisco last January. This game, which the Saints lost, was the final game Williams coached.
"We've got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore's head. We want him running sideways. We want his head sideways," Williams can be heard saying. "Respect comes from fear. This is how you get respect in this league."
Filmmaker Sean Pamphilon, who had access to Saints meetings for a documentary on football, posted the audio on his website.
Williams left New Orleans after last season, which was his third with the Saints. He was hired as defensive coordinator by the St. Louis Rams.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.