Sean Payton has had one strange year, and things are about to get even more confusing.
NFL.com and NFL Network's Michael Lombardi confirmed Sunday that the league voided Payton's contract extension, which he received in 2011, because of concerns about the language in it. The Saints and the NFL discussed the issue many times, but they never found a resolution.
Therefore, if nothing changes, Payton's contract will be up at the end of the 2012 season. With the extension, it would have run until 2013.
UPDATE: Tuesday, November 6, 2:55 p.m. ET by Tyler Conway
Though the New Orleans Saints seem willing to break the bank to keep Sean Payton, don't discount the head coach heading to the Dallas Cowboys. According to NFL.com's Albert Breer, the possibility of Payton to Dallas is still very much alive:
According to one person who worked for the Cowboys during that time, Payton "loved coaching and living in Dallas." That's an important quality for those at Valley Ranch, since it's a franchise that's run, covered and followed differently than the other 31 clubs.
If this marriage comes to fruition, it could be a crushing blow to the Saints—especially considering their struggles this season.
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UPDATE: Tuesday, November 6, 2:40 a.m. ET by Ben Chodos
The New Orleans Saints do not appear to be letting Sean Payton walk away in the wake of the drama surrounding his contract.;
According to CBS Sports' Mike Freeman, they are reportedly taking a wildly different course of action.
Saints owner considering making Sean Payton highest paid coach in NFL. Blog: cbsprt.co/RDGaHH— mike freeman (@realfreemancbs) November 6, 2012
A statement like this would certainly help bring stability to a franchise that has been rocked by scandal.
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UPDATE: Tuesday, November 6, 9:50 a.m. ET by Donald Wood
Despite the fact that suspended New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton had his contract extension voided, which would make him a free agent at the season’s conclusion, it looks like the team will be able to rework the details of the contract and re-sign him while the coach’s suspension is still being upheld.
Nakia Hogan of The Times-Picayune reports on the details concerning the Saints' ability to negotiate a contract extension with Payton:
The Saints and Payton, however, are allowed to negotiate a contract extension right now despite the league's no-contact policy as a stipulation for Payton's season-long suspension connected to the bounty scandal, according to a source.
While this won’t make Dallas Cowboys or Philadelphia Eagles fans very happy, this is the best possible news for the New Orleans Saints organization. With so much turmoil over the last two years, the Saints need their coach back where he belongs.
After Payton’s suspension is over, he will be welcomed back to New Orleans with open arms and a new contract.
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Rosenthal continues to explain that Goodell has the right to make this type of decision on his own and it is his call to make any change.
If the coach does become a free agent of sorts after the season, he would become a very hot commodity around the NFL.
In six years with the Saints, Payton has a 62-34 record, plus three division titles and a win in Super Bowl XLIV. Additionally, New Orleans' 2-5 start highlights the coach's importance to the team's success.
Teams will certainly line up for his services, starting with a few in the NFC East. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Dallas Cowboys are already being considered as a possible destination:
Payton is expected to become the NFL's most sought-after head coach after this season and there already is speculation in league circles that he could wind up returning to Dallas, where he worked as the assistant head coach from 2003 to 2005, during which time the Dallas Cowboys brought in quarterback Tony Romo, who attended the same college, Eastern Illinois, as Payton.
Jason Garrett has had some success as the head coach of the Cowboys, but a 3-5 start is starting to make some uncomfortable. Jerry Jones would likely have little issue making the coaching switch to possibly win games and please fans.
Another team that could enter the race for Payton is the Philadelphia Eagles. Andy Reid's job is already in jeopardy, and he could be on the way out of town if his team once again misses the playoffs.
Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out some factors that could bring the talented coach to Philadelphia:
Payton was the Eagles' quarterbacks coach from 1997-98 when Lurie was early in his tenure as Eagles owner. He briefly lived in Newtown Square, Pa. as a youth and has spoken fondly of his time living in the area.
Despite all of this, the most likely destination for Payton is right back where he was last year with his old team.
He told NFL Network's Jay Glazer, "I absolutely plan on being a New Orleans Saint."
However, things are certainly able to change in the course of the next few months.