NEW ORLEANS -- With a court ruling possible on Friday, attorneys for suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma admitted they're in settlement talks with the NFL.
Reports surfaced Monday morning that an offer was on the table to cut Vilma's suspension in half in exchange for the dismissal of his lawsuit against Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league.
Vilma's attorneys blasted Goodell for comments he made at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony over the weekend.
They said it's the commissioner changing his tune about what Vilma and the Saints are actually accused of.
“When players are rewarded for injuring other players, that's not good for the game and we're gonna get that out of the game. That's a bounty,” Goodell told ESPN.
He continued, “We have three years of denial of this. We have the evidence. It's very clear and so we've taken the appropriate steps.”
This Friday, Federal Judge Ginger Berrigan is supposed to hear arguments from both sides about whether the court even has the right to intervene, but media reports said Monday that the NFL had made Vilma the offer to cut his year-long suspension in half in exchange for dropping the lawsuit.
The NFL promptly denied it, saying the report was completely inaccurate and that no settlement offer had been made.
“These rumors were floated out there. Maybe it was to see what the public reaction would be to these rumors. But it seems to me that where there's smoke there's fire,” said Eyewitness News legal analyst Donald “Chick” Foret.
In a court filing Monday afternoon, Vilma's attorneys admitted they were in settlement talks, but blasted the NFL's leaks about them.
“I think the only way they reach a settlement is if there's some doubt about their chance of success in the litigation, and I think Judge Berrigan put just enough doubt in their mind to make the league think twice about whether or not they want to go through with this,” said Gabe Feldman, director of the Tulane Sports Law Center.
If both sides don't reach a settlement agreement by Friday, they will both have to present their arguments to the judge.
She could rule then and there, or take it under advisement and rule, legal analysts say, sometime next week.