Enduring the wrath of Hurricane Sandy at his Long Island home hasn’t kept our pal Adam Schefter of ESPN from digging up some good stuff for Sunday morning.
Per Schefter, the September 2011 contract extension signed by Saints coach Sean Payton was, at some point in the last year, voided by the NFL. No replacement deal has been negotiated.
The situation could make Payton a free agent after the 2012 season, if it’s determined that his current contract didn’t “toll” by one season as a result of his one-year suspension.
The rejection of the extension had nothing to do with the bounty scandal. Instead, the extension gave Payton an exit clause if G.M. Mickey Loomis were suspended or if he left the team.
The fact that the league rejected a contract negotiated at arm’s length between Payton and the Saints has a bit of a bad smell to it. It’s the kind of collective rule making by the league that in the absence of a union for the coaches could give rise to antitrust concerns.
The fact that Payton’s existing deal surely contains a clause giving the league office final say over any disputes involving the Saints and Payton means that, if the Saints take the position that Payton’s one-year suspension delays his contract by a year, Commissioner Roger Goodell will make the final decision. Which means that Payton most likely won’t be walking away after 2012 unless the Saints want him to.
While it’s intriguing to consider the possibility of Payton going to coach another team (e.g., the Cowboys), this could be more about Payton trying to get more money to remain the Saints head coach. If nothing else, the team’s performance in his absence has demonstrated that he’s underpaid. The voided contract extension gives him a chance to adjust his compensation accordingly.
I’ll have more on this later in the day, possibly during NBC’s Football Night in America at 7:00 p.m. ET.