The Saints are overextended financially and don't have the salary cap space to retain key fixtures on their roster. They've backed themselves into a corner with likely franchise player Drew Brees, which might cost them free-agents-to-be Carl Nicks and Marques Colston.
What to do? Reload in the draft, of course.
Not in New Orleans.
The Saints don't have a first-round pick in 2012 draft -- dealt in 2011 to get back into the first round and draft RB Mark Ingram 28th overall.
And with the NFL releasing details of the investigation into the Gregg Williams-run -- and apparently Sean Payton, GM Mickey Loomis approved -- defensive bounty system, the Saints are about to lose much, much more.
Consider that in 2007 when SpyGate punishment finally was handed down for Bill Belichick, he was fined a maximum $500,000 and the Patriots were stripped of their first-round draft pick in 2008. This for secretly filming Jets coaches from the sideline, with a video assistant having a camera confiscated as evidence.
The transgressions outlined in the NFL security investigation clearly warrant a penalty far exceeding the fine Belichick and the Patriots paid. Belichick paid 14 percent of his annual salary of $4.2 million and the Patriots coughed up another quarter-million, plus draft compensation.
New Orleans can expect Payton to be fined heavily and likely suspended at least one game. Loomis might be judged harshly considering his overseer capacity with the organization and owner Tom Benson might even act separately. Williams is now gone -- hired by the Rams in January -- but the Saints will pay the steep price.
With Goodell stumping for player safety, and the Saints coaches and players flying in the face of that platform with their actions and essentially taunting the harsh rules enforcement for illegal hits, hell to pay will most definitely mean the subtraction of assets.
If Goodell really wanted to stir the nest, he'd rescind the Saints ability to use the franchise tag for two seasons (bye, bye, Brees?).
More likely, he'll take away the team's draft picks -- second round, third round and maybe more -- and leave Loomis and Payton to figure out how to fill the roster holes left by players departing in free agency without meaningful draft picks or the scratch to be major players in veteran acquisition.
The Saints have found value late in the draft -- Colston (7th round), Jermon Bushrod (4th round), Zach Strief (7th) -- but could be in a situation where they first pick outside the top 100.
Saints 2012 draft picks
2nd round (59th overall)
3rd round (90th overall)
4th round (122nd overall)
5th round (154th overall)
6th round (166th overall) - via Redskins for Jammal Brown
6th round (167th overall) - via Dolphins for Reggie Bush
7th round (217th overall)