New Orleans, LA, United States (4E Sports) – There is a possibility that suspended New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton could rejoin the franchise before the Super Bowl, according to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Goodell recently revealed that his office has started preliminary discussions with Payton about his eventual reinstatement and floated the possibility that the mentor could return earlier than expected.
“I don’t want to say he could be because, again, we are in the early stages,” Goodell said as he left for the airport after the NFL owners meetings in Irving, Texas. “We are starting to talk about it.”
Payton has requested for an adjustment on the historic one-season suspension due to the Saints bounty scandal so it would end at the conclusion of the regular season rather than after the Super Bowl.
Goodell said that he and Payton briefly have discussed the reinstatement process they will follow and that more conversations are planned after the upcoming holidays.
The development came after former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue overturned the league’s decision to suspend several players involved in the bounty scandal.
After Goodell rejected the multi-year extension that Payton signed with the Saints in 2011, there is a possibility that Payton might not be committed to coaching the Saints and could be pursued by team such as the Dallas Cowboys.
Goodell has rejected the deal due to a clause that would have voided the agreement and permitted Payton to leave the franchise if general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended, fired or otherwise left the front office.
However, the commissioner provided Payton and the Saints permission to attempt to resolve some contractual issues so as not to create precedent that would lead to the league’s instability.
When asked whether he would consider Payton a coaching free agent if he fails to sign a new agreement with the Saints, Goodell said that was an issue for the team and Payton, not the league office.