As expected, the Saints have announced that a deal in principle has been reached with coach Sean Payton on a multi-year contract extension.
“I am pleased that Sean Payton will be our head coach for a long time,” owner Tom Benson said. “Now we can focus our attention on building on the winning tradition with the Saints that Sean has played such a large role in.”
The contract ends a protracted period of uncertainty regarding Payton’s future, which launched with breathless (and ultimately inaccurate) reports that Payton definitely “will” become a free agent.
Indeed, he won’t.
Still, Payton remains suspended for his role in the team’s bounty/pay-for-performance program. Technically, he must petition for reinstatement. And with Commissioner Roger Goodell still chafing over former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s decision to overturn the player suspensions and with Tagalibue’s 22-page ruling placing blame squarely on the Saints and the coaches, it’s not entirely out of the question to think that Goodell may not immediately give Payton permission to return to work.
If that’s what Goodell chooses to do, he’d be wise to hold his decision until after he leaves New Orleans upon the conclusion of Super Bowl XLVII.