Forgotten by many, the bounty cases are hardly gone.
As the judge presiding over the litigation apparently waits for the August 30 appeal of a key grievance ruling and presumably hopes the parties will find a way to work out their differences on their own, a source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that the NFL “definitely” offered an eight-game reduction in Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma’s fine, at some point during the discussions.
Earlier this month, a report emerged that the league had offered to cut Vilma’s one-year suspension in half. The NFL denied that any such offer had been made.
Our source, who is in position to know, says it happened. It’s still not clear whether it was a formal offer or an implied — but nonetheless clear — indication that if Vilma would accept an eight-game reduction an eight-game reduction definitely would be available. Regardless, the source says Vilma could have had it, if he had wanted it.
Vilma apparently didn’t want it.
It’s not known whether there’s a chance of getting the case resolved if the league would offer to cut Vilma’s ban by more than eight game. (The other three players’ suspensions would have to be resolved, too.) It’s believed, however, that the NFL’s lawyers hope to insulate Commissioner Roger Goodell from ever having to testify. If that belief is accurate, and if Judge Helen G. Berrigan decides to convene a full-blown evidentiary hearing to resolve the conflicts in the sworn statements of Goodell, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita on the question of whether Goodell was ready to discipline players when he disciplined non-players on March 21, the NFL could make an aggressive run at settling the entire case.