After spending the year sipping Mai Tai's and flirting with "fangirls," Sean Payton has come back with a fire lit under him and, from the looks of the moves he's making, he means business. His punishment for the alleged bounty system has gotten under his skin, but you wouldn't know it by looking at him.
Payton isn't going to antagonize anyone during the offseason. That's not his M.O. He is going to sit back with his smug, arrogant gaze and laugh on the inside at everyone. That's what he would rather do. Payton is smarter than others, and he knows it.
That is why he is not going to push the benevolent Roger Goodell's buttons on matters you would normally see a player like James Harrison do. He would rather tick the "honorable" commissioner off in other subtle ways.
Like hiring a defensive coordinator who is the son of a man that was known to have a "Smash for Cash" program with the Philadelphia Eagles in the early 90's. That will probably be the first of many subtle, middle-fingered gestures made by Payton to go along with a few roster moves that will be made soon.
Those moves will be to bring back his gang of lieutenants on defense, Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith and Roman Harper. As much as it would probably be the best move financially, the New Orleans Saints head coach is very loyal to these guys. To a fault. Because they had his back while he was absent from the sidelines in 2012.
All will be asked to drop down to around the $3 million mark next season and, chances are, they will all accept pay cuts and be back in the Black and Gold next season, much to the dismay of some in Who Dat Nation. Like Scott Fujita said on my weekly show, The NOLA Rundown, players are going to love playing for Rob Ryan and he will get the best out of his players.
That, coupled with the fact that no other team values these guys as much as New Orleans does, makes me believe that all three of those guys will join Payton on their "Revenge Tour '13."
This "revenge tour" will be very similar to the way Bill Belichick's team responded after New England's coaching staff was hit with sanctions following the "Spygate" scandal. Those teams were known for running up the score and leaving opponents in their dust. The only difference in the two scenarios is that I don't expect New Orleans to choke in the Super Bowl. If you don't think Payton has that same mentality as Belichick, where have you been the past seven years?
The only question that remains is: how those players translate into Ryan's new scheme?
To me, that is irrelevant because if these players are indeed on the roster for 2013, they won't be on the team after next year. No reason raising hell over that.
Those players will serve their purpose next year, mostly in the locker room, and will help Payton create an awkward scene in New York next February at the Lonbardi Trophy presentation.