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Saints' situation with Payton mystifies

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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By Dan Parr

As one team insider said this week, the Saints’ still-unsettled contract situation for suspended head coach Sean Payton is best described as a mess.

The Saints have made an attempt to quash the growing uncertainty about the future of the only head coach to lead the franchise to a Super Bowl — GM Mickey Loomis told reporters Tuesday that he “absolutely” expects Payton to be the Saints’ head coach next season and going forward, even though Payton is in line to become a free agent when his suspension ends after the Super Bowl.

However, our sources say there are no indications that the team or Payton has made any urgent push to arrive at a solution since it was brought to light in the past week that the contract extension Payton signed in September 2011 had been disapproved by the NFL.

The Saints are said to be waiting to receive written confirmation from the NFL that they are allowed to negotiate with Payton. There have been reports, though, that the team has permission to negotiate a contract with Payton even though he is suspended. It is unclear as to why there would be any delay in getting the Saints the written confirmation they apparently are seeking, but they do, in effect, have exclusive negotiating rights with Payton for about the next three months.

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