Who Dats will take it as a late Christmas present as at least the first step towards erasing the memory of a troublesome 2012 New Orleans Saints season took place Sunday evening. Multiple outlets are reporting from multiple league sources that Sean Payton and the Saints have agreed in principle to a new five-year contract extension.
CBS Sports dot com’s Mike Freeman tweeted that a source tells him “the extension puts him in the neighborhood of Bill Belichick’s annual $7.5 million salary.”
“BOOM HE’S BACK!!!,” tweeted punter Thomas Morestead.
Saints fans frankly don’t care about the price as they’ve seen a team many around the NFL considered a preseason title contending team battling to finish 8-8.
Payton was suspended for the season by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell back in the spring and the team’s fan-base took to supporting the coach by wearing “Free Sean Payton” shirts. There has been much speculation and worry that Payton could be lured away by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones with his deep pocket books and Payton’s kids living in Dallas.
Social media has exploded since the news broke about the new deal showing the importance of getting the extension finalized. The Saints host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday to close the 2012 season and fans and no doubt the team is eager to put this season to rest and bring on 2013.
The Saints should be a contender next season. While they will be reportedly about $16 million over the salary cap, the team doesn't need a major overhaul. Offensively the Saints appear to have found a new weapon in receiver Joe Morgan and a healthy Nick Toon added to receivers Marques Colston (1102 yards this season), and Lance Moore (920 yards), the Saints passing game will be just fine. That's not including tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Darren Sproles out of the backfield.
Defensively, young players like Akiem Hicks could be an answer on the defensive line. Defensive end Cam Jordan leads the team in sacks with eight and fellow end Junior Galette has five in case the team decides to part ways with Will Smith due to cap reasons.
Young secondary players like Rafeal Bush and Isa Abdul-Quddus add depth and much needed play making.
Payton has been very good at finding talent through the draft, after the draft with undrafted rookie players and finding the right fit in free agency. The main point is that the ship has it's captain back and judging by the feedback from Saints fans, the Saints are contenders once again.