NEW ORLEANS – Suspended New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has agreed in principle to a multiyear contract extension, according to two people familiar with the deal.
The people told The Associated Press about the deal Friday on condition of anonymity because it hasn't been signed and final details regarding the length of the contract and financial compensation are still being worked out.
Payton was due to begin his seventh season as the Saints' head coach in 2012 before being suspended for the whole season by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in connection with the NFL's bounty investigation.
Payton signed an extension in 2011, but Goodell objected to certain language in that deal, leaving Payton's future uncertain until the deal was reached Friday.
The agreement was first reported by Fox Sports.
Payton is the only coach in Saints history to win a Super Bowl, a title earned at the end of the 2009 season. But his legacy was tarnished by the NFL's bounty probe, as Goodell ruled that Payton failed to exert proper institutional control over a cash-for-hits bounty program run by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams from 2009-2011.
Although the Saints objected to the characterization of what coaches and players have said was nothing more than a performance pool for big plays, Goodell suspended Payton for the entire season. The commissioner also suspended general manager Mickey Loomis for half of the season and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games.
Payton is 62-34 as in regular-season games as Saints head coach and 5-3 in the postseason. During the three seasons before his suspension, the Saints won 41 regular-season and playoff games combined, more than any other team in the NFL.
Payton has primarily handled the offense in New Orleans, teaming up with quarterback Drew Brees to break numerous records. The NFL records set by the Saints in 2011 included yards passing by a team (5,505) and a quarterback (5,476). The Saints also set a record for total offensive yards with 7,474.
Without Payton on the sideline this season, the Saints missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
The Saints headed into Sunday's season finale against Carolina at 7-8, hoping to avoid their first losing season since they went 7-9 in 2007.
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