New Orleans Saints fans were anticipating the NFL taking away at least one, perhaps multiple 2021 draft picks from the team for COVID-19 violations.

Surprise!

The Saints and Las Vegas Raiders appealed to the NFL, and will keep all their picks in the upcoming 2021 draft, according to Pro Football Talk.

However, it comes with a twist.

For a few hours, it appeared the Saints would not be punished.

Both the Saints and Las Vegas Raiders were penalized by the league during the 2020 season for COVID-19 violations. New Orleans was docked a seventh-round pick for a mask-less locker room celebration, while Vegas had a sixth-rounder taken away for multiple violations. Coaches Sean Payton and Jon Gruden were also fined for not wearing a mask on the sidelines for the entirety of a game.

A few months ago, more reports surfaced of the Saints would endure additional punishment due to having a non-employee at the team's facility.

I don't know the exact nature of the Saints appeal process, but it was likely evidence of a plethora of teams around the league celebrating in the locker room after games without a mask, other coaches who removed their mask during a game, players on the sidelines without masks, or any other obvious violation by another franchise during the league year.

Given the history between the Saints and the league office, the news was surprising, but only for a few hours.

Shortly after Pro Football Talk dropped their report, the league announced the Saints would indeed be punished, it just wouldn't be until 2022.

Here's a rundown of all the Saints selections in the upcoming 2021 draft.

With all the players they were forced to release to get under the salary cap, it's imperative the Saints hit big in this year's draft.

Every Saints Player Released in 2021 and the Cap Savings of Each One

Youngest NFL Franchises

2021 NBA All-Stars

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