Speculation abounded following the 2015 NFL season that head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees might not be returning to the New Orleans Saints in 2016. Instead, the Saints have announced that Payton has signed a five-year contract extension. The extension is worth slightly over $45 million, according to ESPN's Ed Werder.
Payton told reporters at the NFC coaches breakfast at the NFL annual meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., that he has been carrying his contract in his briefcase and has been discussing it with team ownership, GM Mickey Loomis and team president Dennis Lauscha since the end of last season.
Shortly after the conclusion of the 2016 season, Payton announced his plans to remain in New Orleans, saying he planned to finish his career with the Saints.
"I think Zach Strief said it best last week: I'll be here as long as they'll have me," Payton said.
Peyton was hired by New Orleans prior to the 2006 season, and he has the best record of any Saints head coach in team history. He has led the Saints to five postseason bids and the only Super Bowl win in franchise history. The 2009 season was the most successful in team history, and New Orleans finished with a 13-3 regular season record and a Super Bowl XLIV victory.
The last few seasons have presented some challenges. Payton was suspended for the entirety of the 2012 season after a league investigation into a bounty program employed by the Saints defense. The league determined that Payton knew about the bounty scheme and covered it up. All of the players suspended for their roles in the program had their punishments overturned.
Upon Payton's return in 2013, the Saints finished with an 11-5 record and a playoff bid. New Orleans has finished the last two seasons at 7-9 and failed to reach the playoffs. The overall decline in team performance coupled with Brees' age and the burden his contract places on the team's salary cap status led to speculation that both Brees and Payton would be finished in New Orleans following the 2015 season.
Brees is still under contract through 2016, with a $30 million cap hit, and Payton is now definitely in New Orleans to stay.
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