Katie Moore and Doug Mouton / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS -- Whether or not New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton will be a free agent when the season ends is murky.

The NFL network, which of course is owned by the NFL, said that ruling will come from Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Goodell voided Payton's contract and kicked it back to the Saints because of some unusual language. Now, fans are wondering whether Payton's current deal will be pushed forward a year because of his suspension.

Just after noon Monday, the grills and the fans were fired up for the Saints game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The city and the team were once again in the national spotlight, not just because it's Monday night, but because of the reports that Payton could be a free agent at the end of the year.

'If you submit a contract to the NFL in September 2011 for approval and it doesn't come back stamped and approved, there's something going on,' said former sports agent Doug Sunseri.

The extension would've kept Payton in New Orleans through 2015.

'It's not unusual that the league will kick back a contract, but the circumstances that follow the agreement are pretty unusual,' said former Saints executive Jim Miller.

Even if the contract is tolled, or rolled forward a year, and he's in New Orleans through the end of 2013, experts said the chance to re-negotiate the contract extension would put Payton in a position to up the ante.

'I think the fact that the Saints are not doing well this year, shows how important he is to the team,' Sunseri said.

'Everything I've heard from Sean Payton is that he wants to be here. He wants to be a Saint and I don't believe that [Dallas Cowboys Owner] Jerry Jones is pouring mai tais at his poolside villa in Dallas,' Miller said.

But Sunseri and other analysts said Monday there were plenty of reasons that could lead Payton to consider a move.

'Coach Payton has a very healthy ego, which most coaches do. But I think it would be very attractive to him to conquer Dallas,' Sunseri said.

For the Saints it's another exclamation point on a season that for some has left the future of the franchise a question mark.

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