Don't lie, even if you were sold on there being no doubt Sean Payton would return as the coach of the Saints, a small part of you was nervous. I know I was. As much as you want to talk about loyalty, or not leaving the Saints in this condition, eventually Sean Payton will leave. He'll either get too old, he'll get fired, he'll decide to leave on his own terms… one day it will happen. Like life, all good things come to an end in the NFL and it's just a matter of when. Lucky for us as fans that day won't come in this offseason. The one thing that had the potential to drag on and torture us slowly beginning this offseason on the disasterous terms of the previous is now eliminated. It's official, Sean Payton has agreed in principle to remain the coach of the Saints with a 5 year deal, as broken by Jay Glazer.
So now as exciting as this news is it also comes with a sense of relief before quickly turning to a sense of renewed life and purpose. Payton can continue on with his legacy in New Orleans and finish what was momentarily interrupted. And while he'll return to the team much better off than the way it was when he started, we can't expect for him to show up and for the team to just start winning again. It will take work this offseason, especially with a strapped cap situation, to reload this roster enough to make them contenders again. Retaining Jermon Bushrod or finding an equivalent quality left tackle should be enough for the offense to be in place. Special teams, likewise, seems to need little turnover. But much like what always seems to be the case each offseason under Sean Payton, pushing the correct buttons to set the team up defensively will ultimately dictate the success of the team the following season.
Welcome back, coach. I'd be lying if I didn't admit a part of me doubted your return. After all, the allure of a bigger market, more money, and a new challenge was without question great. I'm glad Payton was more loyal than I gave him credit for and I'm equally happy the Saints made it very hard for him to leave with what they were offering. In the end I don't think this team can get back to the promised land without him, so this was huge as the team moves on from a season that was sentenced to death from the start. 2013 is already shaping up much better.