With the NFL's spring meetings in Palm Beach, Fla., completed, top Saints officials returned to their home base late Wednesday to ponder their next moves in the bounty scandal that rocked the league in early March.
There's no doubt that the Saints went home thinking that they have a lot of work to do in a very short period of time. In addition to making their final preparations for the draft that is now less than four weeks away, the free-agency period is continuing.
Their biggest task, however, is making the moves that are necessary in the wake of the suspension of head coach Sean Payton -- a suspension that is scheduled to begin April 1 -- for his role in the bounty scandal.
While the Saints have some time before the eight-game suspension of general manager Mickey Loomis and six-game suspension of assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Vitt goes into effect when the regular season begins in September, the clock is ticking on Payton.
He and team officials decide to appeal the suspension handed down by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
But even that may provide only short-term relief as Goodell indicated that any appeal, which he would hear, would likely come rather quickly.
The Saints may be waiting to see if it brings Payton a reduced suspension before making a move on hiring someone. A shorter penalty could mean that the Saints might be willing to get through the suspension with someone already on the staff.
"It would just be considering all options, to be fair and really trying to do our homework on each option before making a decision," Payton said when addressing reporters at the league meetings Tuesday. "There's a lot of small steps here before we would get to that point of having to make a decision."
If the Saints elect to stay in-house, the three top candidates to take over on an interim basis are offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr., offensive line coach Aaron Kromer and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
While Payton would probably be comfortable with and confident in any of them taking over, he wasn't so sure about putting additional work on them.
"We feel like we've got a number of good candidates," Payton said. "The trick then is what it does to affect their roles that they currently have."
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