New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael on the sideline during the third quarter of a game against the Carolina Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

NFL fines New Orleans Saints severly; What's next for ailing franchise?

The NFL has finally handed out it’s long awaited punishment to the New Orleans Saints franchise for their involvement in a “bounty” system under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, and the penalties are historically severe.

Head coach Sean Payton has been suspended by the NFL without pay for a year, and general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games during the 2012 NFL season.

New Orleans will have to forfeit a 2012 and 2013 second round pick, and the entire organizations was fined $500,000 dollars.

As far as Gregg Williams, who is currently the defensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams, he has been suspended indefinitely which puts his future with the Rams and NFL in serious jeopardy.

Commissioner Roger Goodell has stated that at the end of the season he would entertain a formal review process about possibly re-instating Williams, but made no guarantee that means he will back in the league in time for the 2013 season.

On top of losing head coach Sean Payton for a year, assistant head coach Joe Vitt will be suspended for the first six-games of the 2012 NFL season.

Further discipline is expected for the Saints defensive players who participated in the program, including current starting middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, as up to 26 current and former players could face suspensions of various lengths.

Payton’s suspension will start April 1st, while Loomis will be allowd to spend the off-season with the team before taking his leave through the first eight-games of the regular season.

The logical question for the Saints is where do they go from here, and how do they work around the suspensions of such prominent figures in the organization including Payton, the architect of the Saints potent offense.

More importantly the Saints now must decide who will coach the team while Sean is away, his suspension is effective April 1, and who will make roster moves and contract decisions while Loomis is out half of the season.

Immediately the first name that comes to mind to act as head coach is current offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr., who filled in last year after Payton’s freak sideline injury, but has little actual head coaching experience.

Vitt could surely come back from his suspensios and assume the acting head coaching duties, but it’s possible the Saints could look outside the organization for some help througout the 2012 season.

As far as Loomis’ responsibilities it’s possible the Saints could spread out his general workload over Khai Hartley (Director of Football Operations),  James Nagaoka (Director of Operations), and perhaps even owner Tom Benson and Rita Benson LeBlanc.

Quarterback Drew Brees still needs a new deal, and if there weren’t any pressure to get it done before these penalties, there is now with Loomis’ impending removal from the front office.

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Tags: Bounty Gate Bounty Program Fines Gregg Williams Joe Vitt Jonathan Vilma Mickey Loomis New Orleans Saints NFL Penalties Pete Carmichael Jr. Roger Goodell Sean Payton St. Louis Rams Suspensions The NFL The Saints

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