|Looks like we'll get a few more years of Sean Payton and Tom Benson hugging. (Getty Images)|
According to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, the Saints and coach Sean Payton have agreed in principle to a multi-year contract extension. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the extension is for five years.
CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman is reporting Payton's new contract is "in the neighborhood" of Bill Belichick's $7.5 million per-year salary with the Patriots.
As you know, Payton was suspended for the 2012 season due to his role in the team's bounty program. But even though Payton and the Saints signed an extension in 2011 that kept him under contract through 2015, the NFL voided that deal because of language it deemed inappropriate.
Reportedly, the problem was that the two sides agreed to language that would free Payton from the contract if general manager Mickey Loomis left the team -- if he was fired or if he resigned. The league didn't want to set that precedent, so it voided the contract.
Once that was reported last month, it set off rumors Payton would leave after this season and possibly take on the Cowboys head coaching job. But that was when it appeared Dallas coach Jason Garrett might be on the hot seat.
That's no longer the case, and at the time the Cowboys said Payton's situation had nothing to do with their organization.
But it was reported last month that if Payton wanted to move to Dallas for family reasons -- he has a house there, and his kids live there -- the Saints wouldn't stand in his way.
Ultimately, though, that didn't happen, and CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco says he has quite a challenge ahead of him. But Saints fans can rejoice in Payton returning to the team in 2013. The Saints punter, as well.