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                   === Saints, Payton agree on extension ===
 
 Metairie, LA (Sports Network) - 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.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 12/29 13:05:21 ET