In an ESPN.com article, Adam Schefter reports that the NFL's security department determined that the Saints had a program in violation of league rules, that paid for inflicting injury and causing opposing teams' players to be removed from games.
Players received $1,500 for knocking out an opposing player and $1,000 for causing an opposing player to be carted off. It's said that those numbers may have doubled or tripled during the playoffs.
The program was primarily funded by players and consisted of 22 to 27 Saints' players and an assistant coach. Schefter shared via Twitter that former defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, administered the program with the knowledge of other defensive coaches.
The ESPN.com article has comments from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, where he takes a stance against the Saints' actions in the name of player safety.
It is our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of our game, and this type of conduct will not be tolerated. We have made significant progress in changing the culture with respect to player safety and we are not going to relent. We have more work to do and we will do it.
In addition, under the CBA players can not receive non-contract bonuses, and the fund would fall under a non-contract bonus.
Schefter said on his Twitter that the investigation began in 2010 after complaints from quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Brett Favre. Schefter also speculates that the Saints could be punished with fines, suspensions or forfeiture of draft picks.
First the Saints and Drew Brees are rumored to be around $5 million-per-season apart in contract talks (via news4jax.com) and now the team may be hit with league punishment. The offseason has gotten off to a bumpy start in New Orleans.