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New Orleans Saints Ink Sean Payton to Contract Extension

The New Orleans Saints inked suspended head coach Sean Payton to a five-year contract extension on Friday, according to ESPN.

The terms of the extension remained undisclosed, but Mike Freeman of reported Friday that Payton will make about $7.5 million a year.

In the previous extension deal that was rejected by the league, Payton would have been with the Saints through the 2015 season and would have allowed him to walk away from the deal if general manager Mickey Loomis was fired, suspended, or left the organization under any circumstances that were deemed to be unsatisfactory by the league.

The NFL rejected the deal because they felt the clause would have set a horrible pattern for future coaching contracts.

The news of Payton’s extension pleased Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

“Very happy it is official,” Brees said in an e-mail to the Associated Press. “Never had any doubts.”

Payton has been crucial to the success of the Saints. He led the team to their first Super Bowl title in 2009, but his legacy became tainted by the NFL’s bounty investigation. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell ruled that Payton failed to use his power to end the cash-for-hits program ran by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams from 2009-2011. Goodell ultimately suspended Payton for the entire 2012 season without pay.

Payton has a record of 62-34 in regular-season games and 5-3 in the post sesason as the Saints coach. Under Payton’s guidance, the Saints won 41 regular-season and playoff games combined during the three seasons before his suspension, which is more than any other team in the league.

Brees, who is under contract through 2016, has flourished under Payton’s offense schemes. Brees set the NFL single-season passing record in 2011 with 5,476 yards and the Saints set the passing record by a team with 5,505 yards. They also set a total record for offensive yards with 7,474 yards.

The Saints have missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 without the presence of Payton. Brees has still had a great season, but is tied for a league high 18 interceptions heading into Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers.

The Saints are currently 7-8 and are looking to finish the season 8-8 with a win over the Panthers. If they are unsuccessful, this will be the Saints first losing season since 2007 when they went 7-9.

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