Saints can, will negotiate with Sean Payton during suspension

Saints fans want Payton back in New Orleans. (US Presswire)

Stunning news emerged on Sunday morning, when the world found out that the NFL voided Sean Payton's 2011 contract extension, potentially turning the coach into a free agent after 2013.

That's still a long shot, though, as league sources told CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora the Saints absolutely can negotiate with the agent for Sean Payton during his suspension and they have every intention of continuing to do so, and want to secure him to an extension.

La Canfora also points out that it would benefit the league for the Saints to lock up Payton (again): it will allow the issue to resolve itself without interference from Commissioner Roger Goodell, who already isn't all that popular in New Orleans.

Goodell would have to decide whether or not to toll Payton's contract and not count 2012 as part of his old deal because of the suspension. That could potentially throw the league into another legal action stemming from an issue with the Saints. 

Clearly the league would prefer not to have that happen. And, quite clearly, the Saints would like to bring Payton back.

Additionally, if Payton wanted to stay with the Saints before this season began, it doesn't make any sense that he'd want to leave after the organization stood by him.

Both tight end Jimmy Graham and interim head coach Joe Vitt were asked about Payton's status on Monday night and both expressed quite clearly that they expected to see Payton return to the Saints in 2013.

So do we, particularly since New Orleans has a several-month headstart on negotiating with the coach before any other potential suitors.

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CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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