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#pounditFriday, September 22, 2023

Report: Saints, Panthers could both face discipline for Tommy Stevens negotiations

Sean Payton

One of the NFL Draft’s more intriguing subplots may land two teams in hot water thanks in part to a public admission from Sean Payton that probably should have stayed private.

The New Orleans Saints traded back into the 7th round to select former Mississippi State quarterback Tommy Stevens, whom the team was enamored with as a possible Taysom Hill-type hybrid. According to Jeff Duncan of The Athletic, the Saints wanted to sign Stevens as an undrafted free agent, but he had already given a commitment to the Carolina Panthers. That prompted the Saints to nab a pick in the final round to draft him.

“(The Panthers) felt like they had him signed, sealed and delivered,” Saints assistant GM Jeff Ireland said on the team’s podcast last week. “(The) agent wasn’t really talking to us, so we just decided we’d just go take him from them.”

So what’s the problem? NFL rules allow teams to converse with players who may not be drafted, but they are barred from discussing possible financial terms with them. That prompted the Panthers to publicly deny that they’d had any deal in place with Stevens during the draft in a text to ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio.

One NFL source told Florio that they expect both the Saints and Panthers to receive some sort of punishment for breaking that rule in light of the Saints’ public outing of Carolina.

That would be a pretty bad own goal from Payton and the Saints if their comments do lead to punishment, even if it isn’t severe. While it is a great story, it’s probably one that they’d have been better off keeping to themselves.


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