NFL Nation: contract extension

Sean Payton’s second rebuilding job might be more of a chore than his first.

Friday night’s news that Payton and the New Orleans Saints have agreed to the outline of a new contract extension should bring joy to a fan base that’s been suffering since the bounty scandal broke back in March. Go ahead and celebrate a bit, because this means Payton isn’t jumping over to the Dallas Cowboys.

Payton
But don’t automatically assume that Payton stepping back in will instantly repair all that’s wrong with the Saints. Assuming the deal gets finalized and is approved by the NFL, which nullified Payton’s previous contract extension, the coach is going to have his work cut out for him when he rejoins the team.

The league previously has said Payton will be eligible to return from his season-long suspension the day after the Super Bowl. It’s a good thing that Payton recently competed in a half-marathon, because he is going to have to hit the ground running if the Saints are going to get back to what they once were.

With Aaron Kromer coaching the first six games and Joe Vitt taking over after that, the Saints are 7-8 heading into Sunday’s season finale against Carolina. The Saints are missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

There’s no doubt Payton’s absence played a major role in the Saints’ decline. But does his return mean New Orleans will immediately bounce back?

Payton still will have quarterback Drew Brees and one of the NFL’s most imaginative offensive playbooks, but it’s not going to be easy to fix everything in one offseason.

The Saints are an aging team in some areas and Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis are going to have to make some difficult decisions, because New Orleans currently has $135 million committed toward a 2013 salary cap that is expected to be around $120 million.

That means veterans such as linebacker Jonathan Vilma, defensive end Will Smith, safety Roman Harper and others could be salary-cap casualties. The Saints have a defense that’s ranked No. 32 in the league and may end up setting a record for yards allowed in a season. It’s not going to be easy to fix that defense when you don’t have salary-cap room. The offensive line and wide-receiver corps also could use some work, but any improvements will have to come at bargain-basement prices.

But there is reason for optimism, too. Back in 2006, Payton took over a franchise and put it in the playoffs in his first season. In his fourth season, Payton won a Super Bowl.


It appears as though Sean Payton will remain the coach of the New Orleans Saints -- once he is reinstated from his season-long suspension.

Although there had been speculation that Payton could become a free agent due to a botched previous contract, that doesn’t look like it is going to happen. Payton and the Saints reportedly have agreed to the outline of a new contract extension.

The deal hasn’t been finalized yet and would have to be approved by the NFL, which nullified the first extension because it contained language the league didn’t approve of. Assuming this deal gets finalized and is approved by the NFL, it will put an end to speculation that Payton might jump to the Dallas Cowboys.

This is very positive news for a New Orleans fan base that hasn’t had much since the bounty scandal became public in March. Payton is supposed to be eligible to return to work the day after the Super Bowl -- and he’ll be trying to recharge a team that slumped into mediocrity in his absence.
The Carolina Panthers, who have been pretty quiet throughout free agency, just made their biggest move of the offseason.

The team announced Tuesday morning that it has agreed to terms with receiver Steve Smith on a three-year contract extension.

The move makes sense on a bunch of different levels.

Smith will turn 33 in May, but he showed no signs of slowing down last season. In fact, he seemed energized by the arrival of quarterback Cam Newton. Smith caught 79 passes for 1,394 yards and seven touchdowns last season, and that easily was his best season since 2008. Smith always has taken good care of himself, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he plays through the entire contract, which now runs through 2015.

More importantly, the move should help Carolina’s salary-cap situation in the short term. The Panthers were only about $440,000 under the cap before this move. We don’t know the details of Smith’s contract yet, but it’s a certainty the Panthers restructured the deal to make it more cap friendly for 2012.

Smith had been scheduled to count $10.7 million against this year’s cap. But it’s likely the Panthers trimmed several million off that number by replacing part of Smith’s base salary for this year with a signing bonus that will be pro-rated over the life of the contract.

How much should Drew Brees make?

September, 15, 2011
9/15/11
5:07
PM ET
We all know the New Orleans Saints are talking to quarterback Drew Brees (and his agent) about a contract extension.

Although they’re talking about a pile of money and the structure of a potential deal could be complicated, it’s really not that hard to at least get a gauge of what kind of money Brees should make. I just got a look at the salaries for all quarterbacks in the league and here’s a list of the top 10 based on average money earned per year over the course of an entire contract.
In his current deal, Brees has averaged $10 million per year, which doesn’t even put him near the top 10. But there’s absolutely no doubt he’s a top 10 quarterback and should be paid like one. You can even make a very strong case that he’s a top three quarterback and should make something similar to Brady and Peyton Manning.

At worst, put him somewhere in the Vick and Eli Manning vicinity. But definitely give him more than Rivers. That’s the guy who replaced Brees in San Diego and there’s no doubt Rivers is a fine quarterback. But Brees still is a little sensitive that he got pushed out the door in San Diego. As great a person as Brees is, he still has some ego and a lot of pride. It’s hard to imagine him accepting less money than the guy who replaced him.

For the record, here’s the average per year on the rest of the NFC South quarterbacks. Atlanta’s Matt Ryan is at $11.25 million. Carolina’s Cam Newton is at $5.5 million and Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman averages $5.24 million.

Saints secure Sean Payton through 2015

September, 5, 2011
9/05/11
12:31
PM ET



Nice move by the New Orleans Saints on Monday morning. The team just announced coach Sean Payton has agreed to terms on a contract extension that will run through the 2015 season.

Payton’s previous contract was scheduled to run through 2012 and averaged $4.5 million a season. It’s safe to assume the new deal includes a raise in pay.

The move makes lots of sense because Payton has been the only coach in franchise history to win a Super Bowl and the Saints have had back-to-back winning seasons. Payton’s offseason announcement that he was moving his family to the Dallas area and he would “commute’’ between there and New Orleans led to some speculation that he might not be with the Saints much longer.

But the extension should put an end to that talk.

“I am very pleased to announce this contract extension today for Sean that will run through the 2015 season,” Saints owner Tom Benson said. “Our goal is to continue to build a tradition of winning here in New Orleans and Sean represents that tradition.”

Payton also led the Saints to the NFC Championship Game in his first season, 2006.

Saints look to extend Drew Brees

August, 31, 2011
8/31/11
10:29
AM ET
Here’s some news that eventually could trigger major celebrations in New Orleans.

The Saints have been talking with the agent for quarterback Drew Brees about a contract extension, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. That’s only logical because Brees is about to enter the last year of his contract. His original deal also included 2012 and 2013, but those years voided out.

Brees is scheduled to make $7,393,500 in base salary this year and carry a $10.056 million cap figure. It’s possible a new deal could be structured to lower his cap figure for this year, but that might not be necessary. After cutting defensive end Alex Brown on Tuesday, the Saints have about $7 million in salary-cap space.

Considered one of the game’s top quarterbacks and a staple in the New Orleans community, Brees likely would be among the game’s top-paid players under any new deal. New England’s Tom Brady and Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning each average about $18 million per year and Philadelphia’s Michael Vick recently agreed to a six-year deal reportedly worth $100 million.

The next group of quarterbacks on the salary scale -- Jay Cutler, Philip Rivers and Eli Manning -- average between $14 million and $16 million a year.

The Saints and Brees had mentioned the possibility of an extension long ago, but the NFL’s lockout and labor situation held that up.

Kalil deal frees up $5.5 million

August, 23, 2011
8/23/11
1:00
PM ET
By signing center Ryan Kalil, who previously was carrying the franchise tender, to a long-term contract the Carolina Panthers freed up $5.516 million in salary-cap space for this season.

Under the tender, Kalil was taking up $10.116 million in cap space. But the deal, which is a five-year extension on top of the tender year, drops Kalil’s cap figure to $4.6 million for this season. That puts the Panthers at about $8 million under the cap and could clear the way for them to make moves at cornerback and wide receiver, two positions where they still would like to improve.

I just got a look at Kalil’s contract numbers and his $8.186 million average per year over six years makes him the highest-paid center in league history. The deal included an $18 million signing bonus with a $1 million base salary for this season. Kalil also is scheduled to receive a $5 million option bonus in 2013.

His base salary for 2012 is $1.5 million and it jumps to $4.75 million in 2013 and stays at that same rate in 2014. In 2015, the base jumps to $5.366 million and rises to $7.5 million in 2016. The deal also includes a workout bonus for each offseason bonus starting next year.
MIAMI -- Although there have been some reports that the Saints are in the process of extending the contract of quarterback Drew Brees, coach Sean Payton sure didn’t sound like anything was imminent when asked about the reports Thursday.

After all, there is the little matter of preparing for the Super Bowl before the Saints move into the NFL’s business season.

“I’m not familiar with that," Payton said, when asked about the reports. “I’m sure all of that stuff will get taken care of. There’s a right time for that and that will be after the season."

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Colston

JACKSON, Miss. -- Just got into town on what's been a busy eve of training camp for the Saints.

In a crucial move, the Saints agreed to a contract extension with Marques Colston that will keep the wide receiver with the team through 2011. That comes just after New Orleans traded for tight end Jeremy Shockey.

That means two very talented players are going to be very happy when practice starts Thursday morning. Colston, a seventh-round pick in 2006, had quickly become one of the league's most underpaid players and Shockey had been unhappy with theNew York Giants.

Colston had been quietly hoping for a new deal because he was scheduled to make less than $500,000 in base salary this year. But the Saints stepped up and rewarded a player, who quickly has made himself into one of the league's best receivers.

In two seasons, Colston has caught 168 passes for 2,240 yards and 19 touchdowns. The Saints are optimistic the arrival of Shockey will draw coverage away from Colston. Shockey and Colston will give quarterback Drew Brees two top-notch targets, but the Saints are hoping Devery Henderson or Robert Meachem can step up and challenge David Patten for the No. 2 wide receiver job.

In other news, the Saints are facing likely holdouts by first-round pick Sedrick Ellis and second-round choice Tracy Porter. Coach Sean Payton said running back Deuce McAllister, who is coming back from a knee injury, has been cleared to take part in camp.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider

NFL SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 9/11
Sunday, 9/14
Monday, 9/15
WEEKLY LEADERS