Former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton is still serving his season long suspension and the status of his contract situation is still up in the air. However, with Paul Tagliabue’s decision to vacate the suspended players suspensions in the bounty case there is speculation that Payton could be reinstated as well.
Even if Payton is reinstated that does not necessarily mean he will be a free agent. My colleague and fellow Saints columnist, Brandon Winkler, tells me that Payton may be under contract until 2013 instead of 2012. Since Payton was suspended for the 2012 season it is possible that his contract could get “pushed back” or “carried over”, the same way it would be for players that were suspended.
However, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would have to approve Payton’s contract getting “carried over.” This is all speculation right now, but if Goodell does reinstate Payton then there is a good chance that he would also approve of Payton’s contract getting “carried over.”
If everything plays out this way then Payton’s contract would end in 2013, instead of 2012, since he was suspended. Therefore, Payton would not be available for hire in March which was originally speculated. Now, keep in mind that nothing is set in stone at this point but these are the latest developments with Payton’s contract situation.
Also, there are many factors that will determine whether or not Payton comes back to the Saints. Payton has said time and time again that he plans on being with the Saints for a very long time. Furthermore, Saints owner Tom Benson said that he would be willing to make Payton the highest paid coach in the NFL.
However, another factor that could play out in Payton’s contract situation is the divorce that Payton is currently going through. There could be a custody situation that could affect Payton’s decision as his children live in Dallas. The Dallas Cowboys have been speculated as the team Payton most likely would leave the Saints for. Furthermore, there have been reports stating that Payton and the Saints are not close to a deal and Payton will likely hit the open market.
Payton’s contract situation will be one of the more interesting things that will take place in the off-season for the Saints. If everything falls into place Benson could have more time to work out a new deal for Payton without other teams talking to the coach. However, Payton could also test the market and would likely get a huge deal from any team. Either way, two things are for certain, Payton has all of the leverage in this contract situation and things could get very interesting in New Orleans.