What has already been a bizarre season for the New Orleans Saints, just got totally wacky.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that coach Sean Payton’s contract, which was supposed to run through 2015, has been voided by the NFL. Schefter reports the deal was voided because it contained a clause the NFL said was unsatisfactory.
The clause would have allowed Payton out of his contract if general manager Mickey Loomis was fired, left the Saints or was suspended. The league refused to allow that language because it could set a bad precedent for the contracts of other coaches.
There could be some appeals on this and something could get resolved. But, at the moment at least, it appears that Payton will be a free agent when his season-long suspension ends after the Super Bowl.
That naturally is going to fuel speculation that Payton could jump to the Dallas Cowboys. He has a home in the Dallas area and previously worked for the Cowboys as an assistant. Payton also has a close relationship with Jerry Jones and current Dallas coach Jason Garrett could be on the hot seat if the Cowboys don’t turn around their season.
Payton also has a close relationship with Saints owner Tom Benson and previously said he fully intends to coach the Saints after his suspension ends. It’s entirely possible the two sides could resolve this easily by working out a new contract that doesn’t include the language the NFL didn’t like.
But, at least for the moment, Payton appears to be a free agent. Get ready to start hearing lots of speculation about his future. This could drag on for several months because Payton’s not allowed to have contact with anyone employed by the NFL while he’s suspended.