"NFL Total Access" continues with its "32 teams in 32 days" series. We decided to score some brownie points by writing an accompanying post each night. We'll focus on one goal that each team needs to accomplish before Week 1. Next up: the New Orleans Saints.
Head coach Sean Payton has been suspended for the season and is going through a divorce. General manager Mickey Loomis has been suspended for eight games, and by Week 1 will be focused on running owner Tom Benson's NBA franchise. Jonathan Vilma, the defensive leader, will be spending the fall playing plaintiff instead of middle linebacker.
From a talent standpoint, the suspensions shouldn't have a big impact on what remains a loaded Saints roster. Sure, losing Will Smith to his suspension will hurt, but Martez Wilson, Junior Galette and Turk McBride should be able to hold down the fort for a month. Vilma has lost a step and Curtis Lofton (and even David Hawthorne) are better options at middle linebacker at this point, anyway.
The two sides have until 4 p.m. ET on Monday to agree on a multi-year deal. The six-time Pro Bowler, who suffered a career-threatening injury the first time he was franchised, is reportedly planning to skip camp if no such deal is struck. The deal won't come cheaply, but avoiding that scenario and getting their leader and face of the franchise into the fold by Monday would do wonders for the Saints' psyche and keep them poised to pursue a fourth consecutive playoff appearance.