If suspended Saints coach Sean Payton becomes a free agent after the Super Bowl, it will happen only if the Saints have failed to take full advantage of a head start of nearly three months to fix the flaw that got Payton’s long-term extension scuttled by the league.
Jay Glazer of FOX reports that the Saints officially have received written permission to negotiate a new deal with Payton. It would replace the extension that was rejected due to the presence of language allowing Payton to walk away from the deal if Mickey Loomis no longer is the General Manager.
It was the only move the NFL could make. If the Saints would have been prevented from working out a new contract with Payton and if Payton had bolted to another team after the Super Bowl, Saints fans would have blamed the situation entirely on the league. Now that the Saints have the ability to work out a new deal with Payton, a failure to do so will be blamed only on the Saints and/or Payton — and possibly on the Cowboys if it’s perceived that back-channel communications prompted Payton to wait for his suspension to end before taking a job with the Cowboys.
So, basically, if the Saints do their job, Payton will still have a job in New Orleans.