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A saving grace for the Saints could be the experience of the staff working under both Payton and Loomis, along with veteran leaders in the locker room, starting with quarterback Drew Brees.

Brees and Payton worked in lockstep, not just on the offense, but on other team-wide matters. Payton often consulted his quarterback on the mood of the locker room, and sought his input on when it might be a good idea to change routines or give players a day off.

One potential problem: Brees has said he isn’t happy with the franchise tag. The Saints still hope to work out a long-term deal with Brees, if they can get closer on the money the AP offensive player of the year is seeking.

While things will definitely be different without Payton, the Saints don’t have to start from scratch with his interim replacement.

The case for Carmichael:

_ He took over play calling when Payton broke his leg last season in a sideline collision. The Saints went 9-1 afterward and set NFL single-season records for total yards and yards passing.

_ He has been with the Saints since 2006, when Payton and Brees also arrived. Brees has often spoken of how much he likes working with Carmichael.

_ He was an offensive assistant in San Diego from 2002-2005 while Brees with the Chargers.

The case for Spagnuolo:

_ He is coming off a three-year stint as head coach in St. Louis.

_ Before that, he was the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants’ 2007-08 championship team that contained Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

_ He is known for bringing the kind of intensity to the sideline and locker room that Payton did.

The case for Kromer:

_ He has built up a decade of NFL coaching experience after a stint in the college ranks.

_ He arrived in New Orleans in 2008, the year before the Saints won their only Super Bowl, and oversaw one of the best offensive lines in the league.

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