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The league's investigation found that Williams' bounty system, which ran from 2009 through 2011, offered cash payments of $1,500 for "knockouts," in which an opposing player was knocked out of a game, or $1,000 for "cart-offs," in which an opponent needed help off the field. The league has said the bounty pool grew as large as $50,000.
The investigation found that Payton initially lied about the existence of a bounty program and instructed his defensive assistants to do the same.
Goodell showed some leniency Monday, saying in a statement if Payton, Loomis and Vitt "embrace the opportunity and participate in a constructive way," he would consider reducing the financial penalties on them. None of them has been fined, but each will lose significant income while not being paid during the suspensions. Payton could lose more than $6 million.
Goodell added he would consider modifying the forfeiture of the team's 2013 second-round draft choice, perhaps to a lower round. But New Orleans still will receive a draft penalty next year and will lose this year's second-round pick.
As for who might step in for Payton, Parcells has said he would consider coaching the Saints if asked to help his former protege. Parcells, who turns 71 in August and most recently worked in Miami's front office, won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants and took the New England Patriots to a Super Bowl, but has not coached since retiring from the Cowboys after the 2006 season.
If the Saints sought to hire someone from outside the organization, the club would have to interview a minority candidate to comply with the NFL's "Rooney Rule."
The Saints also have three strong candidates on their own staff: offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.
Vitt, too, could be candidate to step in, as he did briefly last season when Payton broke his leg, but would need someone to fill in for him during his suspension.
Because Loomis can remain as GM until late summer, he will oversee the draft in late April and handle other roster moves through the preseason. Loomis had been told by Saints owner Tom Benson to ensure that the bounty program was dismantled, but the NFL said he did not do enough.
Payton has said he laid out plans for the offseason training program and the late July beginning of training camp. The Saints play Arizona in the Hall of Fame game Aug. 5 in Canton, Ohio, the league's first preseason game.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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