Now that the NFL has upheld the one-season suspension of Saints coach Sean Payton, the Saints must come up with a plan for replacing Payton from April 16, 2012 until the day after Super Bowl XLVII.
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the Saints are now devising that plan, with owner Tom Benson and G.M. Mickey Loomis ultimately deciding the course of action. Payton will have input in the process, but the decision will be made by Benson and Loomis.
The biggest question is whether the Saints will promote from within, or whether they will hire someone not currently connected to the team. The Saints are prohibited from hiring anyone currently under contract at another NFL franchise.
Former Giants, Patriots, Jets, and Cowboys coach Bill Parcells told Gary Myers of the New York Daily News that Parcells knows “absolutely nothing” about the situation, and that he hasn’t spoken to the Saints in over six days.
If the Saints hire Parcells, they must first comply with the Rooney Rule. They may do so by interviewing a minority candidate currently on the staff. Per the source, the Saints have not yet commenced the process of interviewing any candidates.
Although Payton’s suspension begins on April 16, the Saints may wait to hire a replacement. Assistant head coach Joe Vitt, whose suspension doesn’t commence until Week One of the regular season, could preside over offseason workouts until a final decision is made.