In the ever-evolving soap opera that is Sean Payton's contract, the New Orleans Saints and their suspended head coach are now reportedly allowed to discuss a new deal that will keep him with the team next season and beyond.
UPDATE: Sunday, November 11 at 12:35 p.m. ET by Adam Wells
The Saints have said they plan to do everything they can to keep Payton has their head coach in 2013 and beyond. Now the NFL has granted them permission to make it a reality.
According to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports (h/t Pro Football Talk), the NFL has given the Saints written permission to work out an extension 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.
Despite some speculation that his time in New Orleans could be winding down, it seems more and more likely that Payton will be staying with the Saints. After all, both sides would appear to have the parameters of a deal down. They just need to make the language work.
---END OF UPDATE---
According to Nakia Hogan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the NFL has granted the Saints permission to start work on a new deal with Payton, despite his season-long suspension.
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.
The Payton situation got out of control over the weekend, as ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the NFL voided the contract extension Payton signed in 2011 due to language in the contract that "would set a bad precedent for other coaching contracts."
After the news broke, speculation about Payton's future started to run rampant. The most talked-about potential landing spot has been the Dallas Cowboys, with whom Payton was an assistant coach from 2003 to 2005.
Earlier this year, Payton bought a house in the Dallas area (h/t New Orleans Times-Picayune), and given the Cowboys' struggles this season, it's not crazy to think Jerry Jones could make a coaching change—if the right person were available.
We will have to wait and see what, if anything, Payton and the Saints are able to work out, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported that the team is "adamant" Payton will be their coach when he is eligible to return.
Basically, it looks like Payton leaving New Orleans was much ado about nothing. Stay tuned, though, because who knows what strange things could happen over the next three months.