When Sean Payton’s NFL sanctioned one-season suspension draws to a close, he may become the league’s most sought after free agent, according to sources at ESPN. The Saints announced the coaches contract extension in September 2011.
Some insiders believe Payton, who is expected to become the most sought after head coach in the NFL, will ditch New Orleans and end up in Dallas. Payton has experience with the Cowboys after serving as the team’s assistant head coach from 2003 through 2005.
Payton has a connection to Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo through Eastern Illinois University.
Under Payton’s contract extension the option to walk away was given if General Manager Micky Loomis was suspended, fired, or simply left the team.
Following the Saints’ bounty scandal, Micky Loomis was suspended for the first eight games of the 2012-2013 NFL season.
In the meantime, Sean Payton has not cut ties with the Saints; instead, he was given permission to work for the New Orleans Hornets, a team owned by Saints owner Tom Benson.
On Sunday morning, the NFL said “no determination” has been made about Payton’s contract for 2012. According to the NFL statement:
“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.”
Sean Payton could be left with a contract that tolls, that would mean the last year was null and void and he would be required to stick with New Orleans for the 2013 season.
Given his strong relationship with Benson and Loomis, many NFL insiders believe he will stick with the team that has remained loyal to his vision for the future. Others believe the increasing amount of time Payton is spending in Dallas alongside his recent divorce will lead him to the Cowboys.
Sean Payton’s most recent contract extension would have placed him with the New Orleans Saints through 2015.