Steve Spagnuolo out in New Orleans

It didn’t take New Orleans coach Sean Payton long to make a major move after he was reinstated from a season-long suspension earlier this week.

The team announced Thursday night that defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has been fired. Secondary coach Ken Flajole also was relieved of his duties.

“I personally want to thank Steve and Ken for their contributions during what was an unprecedented 2012 season,” Payton said in a statement released by the team. “Philosophically we are changing our defense to a 3-4 alignment and right now is the best time to accomplish this transition.”

The moves don’t come as a huge surprise. Although Spagnuolo was Payton’s hand-picked choice a year ago, the defense struggled mightily in the 2012 season. Spagnuolo’s defense allowed more yards than any defense in NFL history.

The switch to the 3-4 will be challenging for whoever is brought in as the new coordinator. The Saints also will have to find some new personnel to fit in the 3-4 scheme. That won’t be easy because the team currently is about $20 million over the expected salary cap.