Payton hired him to take over the Saints' defense in 2012, only months before Payton wound up being suspended in the bounty probe.
Payton, who never actually coached with Spagnuolo, decided to change New Orleans' defensive scheme from the 4-3 front that Spagnuolo ran to a 3-4. Payton also was apologetic in letting Spagnuolo go after a most unusual season.
"In fairness to him, I think it was a unique, not only difficult but somewhat unfair situation to Steve," Payton said during the NFL meetings in March. "He's hired, and then all of a sudden the guy he was going to work with — he doesn't have a chance to. He coaches the defense for a season and then here it is, we're making a change. And I told him that. ... I felt bad and I felt like there were a handful of these things that were messed up."