UPDATE: League sources have confirmed to Bradley Handwerger and Eyewitness Sports that the Saints can negotiate a new contract or extension with the Saints while he is on suspension.
NEW ORLEANS - Out of the blue Sunday morning, those locals who took the extra hours of sleep afforded by 'falling back' were awakened to a nasty dose of reality with their morning coffee. A story was breaking that played to all the fans' worst fears - that of former Cowboys' assistant and part-time Dallas resident Sean Payton becoming a coveted free agent and the local team having to fight off Jerry Jones' deep pockets.
It's perhaps the only way this nightmare of a post-bounty season could get worse. The one thing Saints fans have always feared is that America's team might lure Payton away and now, while Saints fans are in a holding pattern, with their only solace being that their leader would be coming back next season to resurrect this mess, they are faced with just that possibility.
Answers, you want answers? Everyone is asking you to look elsewhere. The Saints want you to ask the NFL and the league wants you to ask the Saints.
Here's what some NFL insiders think.
Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel says Jerry Jones should go after Payton.
Greg Rosenthal of NFL.com wonders, if Payton is so likely to continue to work for the Saints, why wasn’t a new deal agreed to when the extension was nixed a long, long time ago? http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000090392/article/sean-payton-speculation-heads-to-philadelphia-eagles
CNNSI’s Peter King said if Payton becomes a free agent, his most likely landing spots are either back with the Saints, in Philly or in Dallas.
CBS Sports’ Josh Katzowski said the situation with Payton’s contract is murky. http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/blog/eye-on-football/20819002/report-nfl-voids-sean-payton-contract-extension-will-be-free-agent-after-2012
USA Today’s Jarrett Bell says to expect Payton to be with the Saints for a long, long time.
Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News says the Cowboys continued struggles will only increase talk of Payton heading there.
Of course, there’s the Jay Glazer story that heartened Saints fans Sunday, where he said Payton was “absolutely” committed to the Saints.