The New Orleans Saints have reportedly retained their most important pending free agent, with multiple sources indicating that the team and head coach Sean Payton have come to terms on a five-year contract extension.
The deal, which has yet to be finalized and still must be approved by the NFL, was initially reported by FoxSports.com, with NFL.com stating that the pact will run through the 2017 season.
Payton, who is serving a one-year suspension for the 2012 campaign for his involvement in the Saints' bounty scandal, was set to have his contract expire at this season's end. He had previously signed an extension last year that would have kept him under team control through 2015, but the league rejected the agreement due to unspecified language in the contract.
The 48-year-old Payton has amassed a 62-34 record in six seasons at the helm of the Saints and has guided New Orleans to four playoff appearances, including the franchise's only championship when it defeated the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV to conclude the 2009 schedule.
With Payton exiled from the team, the Saints have gone a disappointing 7-8 under interim coaches Joe Vitt and Aaron Kromer heading into Sunday's finale against Carolina.
If Payton had remained unsigned, he likely would have drawn considerable interest for many of the anticipated coaching vacancies that will occur following this season's finish. He had been previously rumored to be a candidate for the head coach's job in Dallas, where Payton resides during the offseason.