FILE - SEPTEMBER 7: According to reports September 7, 2012, New Orleans Saints players Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove have had their suspensions in the bounty scandal overturned by a three-man arbitration panel. NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 23: Linebacker Jonathan Vilma #51 of the New Orleans Saints in action during the game against the Indianapolis Colts on October 23, 2011 at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Earlier today, a three-member appeals panel overturned the suspensions of New Orleans Saints players Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith, as well as Cleveland Browns player Scott Fujita and free agent Anthony Hargrove. The NFL reinstated them just a few minutes later.
So the previous suspended players are in the clear....for now. While the ruling does overturn the suspensions, it does not prevent them from being suspended again. What the appeals panel appears to have decided is that Goodell did not have the authority to suspend in this particular instance, because a pay for performance system like what was being run in New Orleans can be classified as a "Secret Employment Agreement", which is something where arbitration takes the forefront, rather than a punishment handed down by the Commissioner.
What does this mean for the Bucs? Not as much as you would think. While Jonathan Vilma can now rejoin the team, he is still recovering from the knee injury he suffered last year and is not ready to play regardless. Will Smith is eligible and able to play right away, but he would have returned from his suspension before the Bucs first faced the Saints in week 7 regardless.
So ultimately all this really means for the Bucs this year is there's a possibility of Vilma being able to play against us, but since he hasn't been able to do his injury rehab with the team, there's no telling how long he'll be continue to be out for medical reasons.