One aspect of this whole Bountygate mess is how it will affect the Saints' ability to re-up their best players. I have to admit: I feel a great deal of trepidation for Drew's safety if he takes the field next year as the "face of the franchise" for what the media is going to be describing as the "dirtiest team in NFL history."
I wonder if he even wants to return now. Would you? If you had the chance to play--and be paid damned well--for virtually any other team in the league, would you want to return to the steaming pile that is the 2012 Saints? We're looking at turmoil in the front office, a shakeup on the coaching staff, sanctions, fines, loss of draft choices, possibly record turnover in the locker room...and complete demoralization.
Still want to be leader, Drew?
The situation is even more severe for players like Carl Nicks and Marques Colston. The Saints haven't even begun negotiating with them yet. They've been sitting at home waiting...and now this. If I were any of them, I'd want out now.
In fact, I half hope that all of them leave. Not because I don't love them as players, or appreciate what they've done for this team, but for the opposite reason: because I do. They deserve better than this. Right now, I'm almost terminally disappointed in Loomis, in Payton, in Williams, in all the defensive coaches, and in virtually every player on the defensive side of the line. Only Benson (so far) and the offense come off as clean. They're the ones who don't deserve this--and if the only way Drew, Carl, and Marques can put this behind them is to depart, well, I wish them godspeed.
Don't get me wrong: I'm still hoping against hope that everything works out, and that February 2013 sees us hoisting a Lombardi and laughing about all the fuss back during offseason. I just don't see a path to victory right now.