Tonight, after the final gun of the game between the Eagles and Saints, the eight-game suspension of G.M. Mickey Loomis will end.
And Loomis will be able to immediately commence the process of finalizing the September 2011 extension to coach Sean Payton’s contract.
According to Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Saints are permitted to negotiate with Payton now, despite a suspension that runs through the February 2013 Super Bowl.
It’s a huge (wait, that deserves all caps . . . HUGE) advantage for the Saints. They’ve got a three-month exclusive negotiating window. Any other interested team can’t even contact Payton until after the confetti cannons fire in the Superdome come February.
So if Payton becomes a free agent, it’ll happen only after the Saints have spent three months exhausting their exclusive opportunity to iron out the rough spots in a deal that, as of 14 months ago, Payton has happy to sign. Indeed, the deal was announced only days after Payton had told PFT Live that he plans to stay in New Orleans for 5-6 more years — and that he wants to be there as long as Drew Brees is the team’s quarterback.
Throw in the fact that the organization has remained steadfast in its support of Payton despite his “ducks in a row” role in the bounty fiasco, and it’s hard to imagine Payton essentially telling the organization, owner Tom Benson, Loomis, and Brees that Payton is ready to hit the open market, which given his suspension would happen more than a month after the market opens.