Saints coach Sean Payton agrees to 5-year contract
BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — Saints coach Sean Payton says he has agreed to a new contract that runs through 2020 season.
Payton had two years remaining on his current deal at about $8 million per season. He hasn’t signed the new contract yet, but had it in his briefcase at the NFC coaches’ breakfast Wednesday morning during the NFL owners’ meetings.
"I don’t see myself working anywhere else," said Payton, who found himself constantly fielding questions about his future in New Orleans late last season. "It’s a good thing. There’s been really good stability and consistency. … That doesn’t guarantee anything, but it gives you a chance."
The 52-year-old Payton is 87-57 in nine seasons in New Orleans. He has led the Saints to five playoff appearances and one Super Bowl title. They’ve finished 7-9 the past two years, marking the first time Payton has had consecutive losing seasons as a head coach.
Payton, who missed the 2012 season while suspended for the team’s bounties program, is tied with Mike McCarthy for third-longest tenured coach in the league behind Bill Belichick and Marvin Lewis.
Payton began his first and only NFL head coaching job with the Saints in 2006, which was also the franchise’s first season back in New Orleans after a season of displacement to San Antonio because of Hurricane Katrina.
New Orleans improved from 3-13 the season before Payton arrived to 10-6 in his first season, making the playoffs and advancing to the NFC championship game. The Saints returned the playoffs in 2009, going 13-3 for the top overall seed in the NFC, then won three postseason games for the franchise’s only Super Bowl title in its 49 seasons.
The Saints also made the playoffs in the 2010, 2011 and 2013 seasons, but never advanced beyond the divisional round. Still, such results represent a relative renaissance for the Saints, who personified bumbling ineptitude for significant stretches of franchise history. They took more than 30 years to win a playoff game, in 2000. Since Payton arrived, New Orleans has not lost as many as 10 games in any season.
A quarterback at Eastern Illinois, Payton went into coaching at the college level until 1997, when he took his first NFL job as an offensive assistant with Philadelphia. That was followed by stints with the New York Giants (1999-2002), then Dallas (2003-2005) under Bill Parcells, whom Payton considers a mentor.
With New Orleans, Payton designed an offense which has consistently been among the most prolific in the NFL in the past decade. He has also been the primary offensive play caller for most of his nine seasons on the sideline.
One of the Saints’ first significant roster moves under Payton was the free-agent signing of quarterback Drew Brees, who has passed for 48,555 yards with the Saints, more than any other NFL quarterback during the past 10 seasons.
In 2011, the Saints set the current NFL record for total net yards of offense with 7,474, with Brees passing for 5,476 yards.
Brees remains under contract for one more season, although Payton and Brees have indicated they’d both welcome an extension. Doing so would likely give the Saints flexibility under the salary cap. Without any changes, Brees’ contract would count about $30 million against the cap in 2016.
Last year, the Saints averaged 403.8 yards per game, second in the NFL. Defense was the bigger problem for New Orleans, which ranked second to last in yards allowed per game at 413.4.
"We need to add more pieces immediately on defense," Payton told the NFL Network on Wednesday. "That’s the first thing that comes to mind.