This is not the way New Orleans Saints fans wanted to wake this morning as ESPN this morning reported news that no doubt will have Who Dats angry or at the very least worried.
The NFL has voided the contract extension Sean Payton and the Saints signed in 2011 because of a clause written in the contract. A clause in the deal apparently says that if general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended, fired or left the Saints then Payton could walk away from the contract. The NFL believes it would set a bad precedent for other contract and rejected the deal apparently before Loomis was suspended for the first eight games of the season.
Let me translate. Payton will apparently need a new deal and he will be getting a raise one way or another by either the Saints or another team. Payton telling Glazer that he loves working for the Saints means that the team will be given the opportunity to retain him but it won't come cheap.
NFL Network's Michael Lombardi also confirming the story Sunday morning. However Lombardi reports that people in the league believe Payton's deal could carry over for a year or "toll" into 2013 keeping him with the Saints next season.
Payton will be highly sought at the end of the season and at the very least will drive up the Saints price to retain him. As it's been speculated in the past, Dallas where Payton coached as an assistant from 2003-2005 will likely be a team that is talked about from now until the end of the season as a possible destination.
Per the ESPN story, Payton back in March when visiting the offices to deal with the appeal process as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell what was the status of his contract extension and was told then it was unsatisfactory.
The NFL releasing a statement Sunday morning on the matter : "Our office has made no determination on Sean Payton's contract status with the Saints for next year," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement given to Rapoport. "All contracts between clubs and their employees must be approved by the commissioner, and we do not comment on specific terms of individual contracts. Any comment regarding the matter should come from Coach Payton and the Saints."
Lombardi in the NFL dot com story bring up the point, "When a player is suspended, their contracts essentially get pushed back a year. The suspended year doesn't count. It's believed the same logic will apply here, meaning Payton would be under contract until 2013."
Guess who though has the final say? Goodell, who has unilateral right to rule on coaching contracts. The ESPN story also states that both sides have been in talks to try and resolve the issue but never came to an understanding.
I'm still trying to process all of this as i'm sure many of ya'll are as well. I have a few questions. First and foremost why if back in March this was decided are we just finding out about this? I don't know about you but finding out at the appeal process that the person who I thought would be my head coach for the next several seasons no longer has a deal, is a pretty big deal.
I can only assume that at the time everyone was made aware of the situation and an understanding came to pass that either the language would be reworked or that a new deal all together would come to pass. Whatever the reason I think we need clarity. The team needs to release a statement and tell us if Sean Payton is or is not under contract for starters.
There is the other side that undoubtedly Saints fans are probably looking at. Payton was to bail and head to the place many Who Dats have placed him at for a while now. Dallas. His children now live there, he has a close relationship with owner Jerry Jones, the team is a mess and without question Jones likely would had Payton's agent a blank check.
Payton's eventual return in what has been a very tough season to say the least is the only saving grace for fans. The thought that the team would need to get into a bidding war to keep him can't be a comfortable thought. I do believe that if indeed Payton becomes a free agent Saints owner Tom Benson would do what it took to keep him.
That being said it should be too much more that what he has already done. The Payton era to be honest hasn't always been smooth sailing and the bounty situation is a serious black eye. Through it all however Benson never wavered from his support of Payton and Loomis and has always said he will be the coach next season.
If Payton were to walk away for greener pastures, I think it would be safe to say that Nick Saban would no longer be the most disliked figure in this state.