Sean Payton in contract limbo

Alex Wong

The NFL says that Sean Payton's contract is voided, but that's only the beginning of the latest outgrowth of the bounty scandal.

Sean Payton's contract extension with the New Orleans Saints was voided by the NFL, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported on Sunday morning. It is not clear whether or not the voided deal makes Payton free to ply his trade outside of the Crescent City in 2013 or not, however. And how that issue will be resolved is even less clear.

The quirk rests with a rule that pushes contracts back a year because of a suspension. Payton is in the cooler for the year in the wake of the bounty scandal. The league reportedly took exception to language that lets Payton out of his contract if GM Mickey Loomis is suspended, which he was.

Commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed that Payton' deal was voided at a fan event in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon, reported the NFL Network. He threw matter back to the Saints and the coach.

Now, the matter of a "toll" (freeze), the caveat that would push Payton's contract back a year to cover 2013, must be resolved. Unlike players and the NFL, there is no collective bargaining agreement between the two sides that spells out rules and guidelines for these things.

Payton's side says that because he got paid for the early part of the year, he's out of the deal, according to Jason Cole at Yahoo! Sports. The Saints would like to keep a popular, proven head coach off the market; the extension married the two sides through 2015.

The Saints bounty scandal is forging new frontiers in league governance, one strange case at a time.

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