The Most Intriguing Offseason in New Orleans History

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 10: Linebacker Jonathan Vilma #51 of the New Orleans Saints stands on the sidelines during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Saints 30-20. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

It's amazing to think back how much things have changed in New Orleans sports in a year. A year ago Reggie Bush was an overpaid role player. And Darren Sproles was a Charger. In June 2011, Gregg Williams' approach was only beginning to raise eyebrows, but not because of a bounty scandal. Who Dat Nation was concerned because the Saints defense made Marshawn Lynch look like Red Grange reincarnate. As a Saints' fan, my biggest worry was giving DeShawn Wynn (shudder) significant touches in a playoff game (double shudder).

Obviously, quite a bit has changed in a year.

Williams is gone due to Bountygate, and it seems Jonathan Vilma may soon be following him. Steve Spagnuolo, in a span of four months, ruined the Saints season (Do you really think Alex Smith wins a playoff game in the Dome? Me neither. Had they just beaten the Rams...) and then became a shining ray of hope for the future of our defense. Curtis Lofton went from being an enemy to an ally. In addition to tracking OTA's (which admittedly didn't happen last year due to the lockout), now Saints fans must track Tom Condon's every move. Questions have changed from "Will the Saints have enough running back depth?" to "What was really playing in Mickey Loomis' headphones?" Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that Sean Payton won't coach this year.

If that's not enough, one could argue that the Saints aren't even the most drama laden team in the city. If you hadn't noticed the Hornets (if that's still their name by the time this is published) were owned by the NBA, lost their star player, had been involved in a non-trade with the Lakers which caused national uproar, but eventually received one of the best young guards in the game in return for Chris Paul. In addition, they were recently bought by Tom Benson and won the rights to draft Anthony Davis. It's been quite the year in the City that Care Forgot.

The next year will be just as intriguing (if hopefully less negative) than the previous. How will the Saints do without Payton? Is Pete Carmichael Jr. ready to run the offense by himself? Can the defense adjust to Spagnuolo's schemes? Will Brees happily (big emphasis on that adverb) sign a long term extension in the Crescent City?

We're on the brink of a very telling year my fellow Who Dats. Let's hope that the team can make headlines for Jimmy Graham touchdowns and not Anthony Hargrove testimonies in the future.

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