The NFL has offered to reduce New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma’s year-long suspension to eight games as part of ongoing settlement talks involving the league, the NFL Players Association and legal representatives for the four players who were suspended for their alleged participation in the team’s bounty program from 2009-2011, according to sources familiar with the discussions.
The league’s offer was made late last week but it is conditional upon Vilma dropping a civil lawsuit charging commissioner Roger Goodell with defamation of character, sources said. Vilma has expressed his strong feelings about his tainted reputation.
The talks could also lead to reductions in the suspensions of the other three players — Saints defensive end Will Smith (four games), Packers defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove (eight games), and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita (three games).
Settlement talks are expected to continue Monday and sources say that Friday’s next scheduled appearance before U.S. District Court Judge Ginger Berrigan could serve as a soft deadline to reach a settlement. The two sides filed more arguments in the Louisiana court this past Friday in advance of this week’s hearing.
The original hearing was conducted on July 26th as Judge Berrigan was deciding on whether to grant a temporary restraining order on behalf of the four players who were suspended by Goodell.