In November, the disclosure that the long-term contract negotiated by the Saints and coach Sean Payton had been rejected by the league office spawned breathless reporting that Payton could be a free agent. (We reported at the time that the Saints were adamant that Payton will be back.)
It never happened, because the Saints and Payton secured permission to work out a new deal during his suspension. And work out a new deal they did.
Now, in his first comments since being reinstated by Commissioner Roger Goodell, Payton said he never would have left.
“There was no way I was going to another team,” Payton said, via Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com. “The issue was a minor technicality. There was a minor clause, [the media] had it right, there was a minor clause in there that wasn’t approved. What became more challenging really, was being out of the building and then trying to work through the specifics to get the contract done.”
The technicality arose from a provision that would have allowed Payton to leave if at any point Mickey Loomis no longer was the team’s General Manager. It’s unclear how that technicality was resolved.
Regardless, the Saints said Payton wouldn’t leave and he didn’t leave and he now says that never would have happened.