Saints, Payton agree on extension

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The New Orleans Saints announced Saturday that the club and head coach Sean Payton have agreed in principle to a multi-year contract extension.

The deal is reportedly for five years.

"I am pleased that Sean Payton will be our head coach for a long time," said Saints owner Tom Benson. "Now we can focus our attention on building on the winning tradition with the Saints that Sean has played such a large role in."

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.

In six seasons at the helm of the Saints, Payton has guided New Orleans to a 62-34 record and four playoff appearances, including the franchise's only championship when it defeated the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.

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.