Saints players had just finished practice when they received word of the panel's ruling.
"It's huge," said Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins, a defensive captain. "Those are two huge leaders we've got. They're great players. We've got a talented team, but you add Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma, our talent level goes up that much. For our team, it's a break."
Even if Vilma could not play right away, Jenkins said his presence in the locker room and meetings would be valuable.
At Browns headquarters, linebacker D'Qwell Jackson was sure the 33-year-old Fujita would be able to come back and have an immediate impact.
"I'm confident Scott has been keeping his conditioning up and he knows the system," Jackson said.
"He's got what 12 years in? He'll be fine. If he's able to come back there will be a lot of excitement in this locker room."
Fujita was barred from Cleveland's training facility this week, but he stayed in town and worked out on his own at nearby Baldwin Wallace University in the event the suspension was lifted. Fujita, who serves on the NFLPA's executive committee, had expressed confidence he would be on the field in Week 1.
Hargrove, docked eight games, was released last month by Green Bay and is not currently with a team.
The appeals panel consisted of retired federal Judge Fern Smith of San Francisco, retired federal Judge Richard Howell of New York, and Georgetown professor James Oldham. It met in New York last week to hear arguments from the NFL Players Association, which appealed Burbank's ruling that Goodell had the authority to hear and rule on the players' appeals of their suspensions. NFL attorneys had asked the panel to affirm Burbank's ruling, but the panel sided in large part with the union.
The decision likely means that consolidated federal lawsuits brought against the NFL by Vilma and the NFLPA on behalf of the other three players are likely on hold until Goodell reissues punishment. It also spared U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan from having to decide before Sunday on a temporary restraining order requested by the players.
AP Football Writer Barry Wilner in New York and AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.