NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell finally lifted the suspension of New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, an act that was effective immediately on Tuesday, according to Judy Battista of The New York Times.
With that out of the way, Payton can finally return to his beloved organization and begin to make improvements to a roster that managed a mediocre 7-9 record in 2012.
How will the Saints finish in 2013?
While the Saints weren’t completely atrocious this past season, it was clear that they would have benefited from Payton’s coaching ability for the entire campaign, rather than Aaron Kromer assuming head-coaching duties for the first six games and then suspended assistant Joe Vitt for the final 10.
Perhaps the most telling impact of the nearly year-long suspension is the lack of the success this group had, even though the core of the 2009 Super Bowl winners is still in place—most notably QB Drew Brees.
It proves that Payton has a rapport with his players that cannot be measured, not to mention a brilliant football mind.
He’s going to have to put that brain to use now that he’s allowed to head down to Mobile, Ala., to start scouting prospects in Saturday’s Senior Bowl, and begin identifying targets for the upcoming free-agency period.
The 49-year-old coach has been with the organization for the past seven years and has an understanding of its makeup as good as anyone else in the league.
Payton has likely seen all the film and has an idea on exactly what sort of players he needs to acquire via the draft and offseason signings.
Don’t be surprised to see the Saints back in the postseason at the end of the 2013 campaign as Payton triumphantly leads his team back to glory following a long year of exile.