The ping-pong of reports regarding the Saints and suspended coach Sean Payton continues.
It started Sunday, when ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the league office rejected Payton’s September 2011 contract extension and that Payton will (not might, will) become a free agent after “the season.” ESPN thereafter launched into speculation regarding Payton becoming the next coach of the Cowboys that was so strong it at times has seemed wishful.
Then, FOX’s Jay Glazer said that Payton “absolutely plans” to coach the Saints in 2013.
Then, some Internet hack with whom you may be familiar reported on NBC that the Saints are adamant that Payton will be the coach next year.
On Monday, some clarity emerged regarding the timeline that would apply. Payton can’t be a free agent until his suspension ends. His suspension won’t end until the next Super Bowl is played. That complicates significantly the ability of teams like the Cowboys or the Eagles to pursue Payton, since they wouldn’t even be allowed to talk to Payton until more than a month after the normal hiring cycle ends.
Then, Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that the Saints and Payton are able under the terms of the suspension to fix the contract.
Then, Schefter reported they aren’t.
Then, said Internet hack with whom you may be familiar chimed in again, explaining that the communications aimed at fixing the contract are allowed.
Now, Nakia Hogan of the Times-Picayune reports that permission expressly has been given by the league to the Saints to resolve the flaw in the contract that prompted the league office to previously reject it.
While Schefter has yet to hit the small, hollow, plastic ball back over the small green net, ESPN has posted an item based on the latest Times-Picayune report.
For now, then, it looks like G.M. Mickey Loomis, on his first full day of work after serving his own eight-game suspension, can commence the process of getting the extension ironed out. He has three months to do it before Payton would be able to walk away.
It’s the smart thing to do. Exceptions already have been made under the terms of the suspensions to allow Payton and others to attend the Chargers-Saints game earlier this year. Likewise, the terms of the supposed banishment of former Saints and current Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams have been warped and bastardized to the point that he can apparently attend all Rams games.
Besides, the NFL desperately needs Payton to stay in New Orleans because the NFL will bear the full brunt of the blame if Payton goes.
Sure, Payton could look for a raise over what he was due to make under the terms of the rejected extension based on the team’s performance with him last season and without him this year. Still, there’s no reason (yet) to believe that Payton has in only 14 months decided that he no longer wants to coach the Saints.
While it was a great story from Schefter, the hype of a possible jump by Payton to the Cowboys made the story into something more than it ever should have been at this point. It doesn’t mean that Payton definitely will be back in New Orleans next year, but the signs are pointing much more strongly to that result than any other possible outcome.