Saints' ruling coming soon?

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly is expected to announce his decision on the New Orleans Saints’ appeals of their punishments for running a three-year bounty program soon, perhaps as early as Monday afternoon.

Stay tuned. I’ll be here with analysis soon after any announcement comes. But I’m guessing there’s little chance Goodell will change his mind on the one-year suspension of coach Sean Payton and the eight-game suspension of general manager Mickey Loomis. If the suspensions are upheld, it’s likely Payton’s will start immediately or close to it.

Payton initially was supposed to start his suspension April 1, but the appeal has bought him some more time.

Once a decision is made on the appeals, this story is far from over. The Saints will have to put a new coach in place and we’ll see if it’s Bill Parcells, someone else from outside, or one of Payton’s current assistants. A decision on that likely will come very soon, because the Saints begin their offseason program in one week.

Speaking of the start of offseason workouts, their start also adds a sense of urgency for the Saints to work out a long-term contract with quarterback Drew Brees. Right now, he’s carrying the franchise tag, but hasn’t signed it. If Brees hasn’t signed the tag by next week, I’m guessing he won’t be joining his teammates for workouts. That’s why it’s critical that the Saints and Brees work out something soon.

The other thing that’s hanging out there is possible player suspensions. The NFL has said 22 to 27 players were involved in the bounty program and could face fines or suspensions. League officials have met with representatives of the NFL Players Association, but the league hasn’t set any timetable for announcing player discipline.