Sean Payton is smarter than I thought, and I thought he was plenty smart. Before his suspension he helped the Saints pick his coaching replacement for the 2012 season, and he screwed up the process so much that the Saints went into the dumper. This isn't hindsight, either. I saw it happening in April, and wrote about it then.
But Payton is smarter even than that. He has manipulated events so thoroughly that a return to the Saints as the conquering hero, which looked to be his end game back in April, has become an afterthought. It could still happen, sure -- but that has become the least of his options.
Unless Roger Goodell pulls another Roger Goodell and smites Sean Payton for the hell of it, Payton is about to become the most coveted, most expensive free agent coach in NFL history.