METAIRIE, La. -- New Orleans Saints wide receiver Willie Snead has been suspended for the first three games of the regular season after violating the league's personal conduct policy.
The suspension stems from offseason charges of driving while intoxicated and failing to maintain proper control of a vehicle.
Snead was originally suspended four games, but that dropped to three after appeal.
"Obviously it's unfortunate, and I think knowing Willie, a bit surprising. So we kind of go from there," coach Sean Payton said.
"Obviously when it involves a player suspension to start the season ... you have to adjust your roster accordingly. But we are aware of it, on top of it, and that will factor into how we go into planning the early part of this season."
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said in a statement: "We are aware of the news regarding Willie Snead's suspension. Our focus is on finalizing our roster and preparing for the beginning of the 2017 regular season and working with the players on our team."
According to the police report, Snead was arrested shortly after 6:30 a.m. on June 11 near his home in Kenner, Louisiana, after his vehicle struck another vehicle and suffered "heavy front end damage." A breath test later yielded a blood alcohol content for Snead of 0.125 -- which is over the legal limit of 0.08.
Snead told police on the scene that he was returning home from downtown New Orleans and had consumed three glasses of whiskey, but that he had consumed his last drink at midnight. The officer noted the "slight odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from his breath" and "bloodshot eyes" before Snead was asked to perform a field sobriety test and then taken into custody.
Snead issued an apology on Twitter after the news was announced.
September 1, 2017
Snead, 24, was expected to be a big part of the Saints' offense, especially after the team traded Brandin Cooks to the New England Patriots.
Now the Saints likely will count on backups Brandon Coleman and Tommylee Lewis more than usual to supplant starters Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr. -- though Payton declined to elaborate on how the Saints will replace Snead's production in the lineup. Snead's suspension could also increase the chances of New Orleans keeping veteran runner/receiver Travaris Cadet on the roster.
The Saints also had veteran receiver Corey Fuller in training camp, but he was placed on injured reserve Friday with an unspecified injury.
Snead has been one of the Saints' best discoveries during the Payton-Loomis era, with a total of 141 catches for 1,879 yards and 7 touchdowns during the past two years. Before that, the 5-foot-11, 195-pounder went undrafted out of Ball State in 2014 and was released by both the Cleveland Browns and Carolina Panthers before landing on New Orleans' practice squad.
Snead is scheduled to become a restricted free agent after this season after he failed to work out a long-term contract extension with the Saints this offseason.