Sean Payton has faced enough uncertainty about his future in the NFL in the wake of the bounty scandal surrounding the New Orleans Saints. To add another layer to this issue, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports this morning that the NFL has voided Payton’s contract extension with the Saints, meaning that Payton will be a free agent at the end of this year.
The issue has to do with a clause in the contract that would have allowed Payton to leave the Saints and sign with the team of his choosing if general manager Mickey Loomis happened to lose his job or be suspended. Payton’s contract extension, which kept him with the Saints through the 2015 season, was apparently never approved by the league and officially put into place, according to Schefter. The most interesting part of this is the fact that team owner Tom Benson still announced that Payton was locked in to the new deal without the league’s approval.
When Benson initially announced last year the extension for Payton that never got league approval, he said: “I am very pleased to announce this contract extension today for Sean that will run through the 2015 season. Our goal is to continue to build a tradition of winning here in New Orleans and Sean represents that tradition.”
Schefter also says that the league could choose to toll Payton’s contract. This means that Payton would be under contract with the Saints for the 2013 season before his current contract expires due to the fact that Payton is suspended for the entire 2012 season. However, Schefter indicated that this scenario would be unlikely.
In the wake of this news, the Sean Payton-to-Dallas rumors have started to swirl. Payton has many ties to the Cowboys team, making him a logical fit to supplant head coach Jason Garrett should he be fired after this season. Payton was the Cowboys’ assistant head coach from 2003 to 2005, and went to the same college as quarterback Tony Romo, Eastern Illinois. Still, the Saints will do everything to retain the coach who, along with quarterback Drew Brees, helped lead the team and the city of New Orleans out of the ruins of Hurricane Katrina.
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