Saints, Raiders Won't Lose 2021 NFL Draft Picks After COVID-19 Violations

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2021

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) prepares to hand off the ball against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
David Becker/Associated Press

Neither the Las Vegas Raiders nor New Orleans Saints will lose a draft pick in the 2021 NFL draft for COVID-19 protocol violations during the 2020 season.

Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk reported the Raiders were slated to lose a sixth-round pick and the Saints were expected to forfeit a seventh-round selection, but it appears the draft choices were reinstated on appeal.

"They are not forfeiting them. Neither team will lose those picks," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Smith.

The Raiders were punished in early November for "repeated violations" of COVID-19 protocols. The franchise was fined $500,000 and head coach Jon Gruden was fined $150,000 along with the scheduled loss of a draft pick, per Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

"I'm just going to say that I'm very proud of our organization for how we have handled this entire protocol and this entire process," Gruden said at the time. "I'm not going to comment any further than that. As I said last week, I believe we are on the cutting edge of being the best at servicing players. I'll leave it at that."

In late November, the Saints were fined $500,000 and lost the draft pick after videos were posted showing a mask-less celebration following a Week 9 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the team was "not happy about the discipline" and appealed, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Saints head coach Sean Payton had been fined $100,000 in September for not wearing a face covering at all times on the sideline.

It's unclear whether the fines related to the November violations were also rescinded in coordination with the restoration of the teams' draft picks.

New Orleans will now have seven selections in the 2021 draft, which starts April 29, and Las Vegas is back up to seven choices, as well.