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NEWORLEANS - The NFL has had preliminary talks internally about reinstating suspended New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, a league spokesman said Thursday.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said talks have not been initiated with Payton, his agent Donald Yee or officials with the Saints.

ESPN's Ed Werder reported Wednesday that he could be back prior to the 2013 Super Bowl. Payton is serving a year-long suspension that began this past Spring for his role in bounty program.

At a league owners meeting in Dallas, Goodell did not eliminate the possibility of Payton returning to the Saints before the Super Bowl.

Meanwhile, the Saints and Payton were given the go-ahead in November to work out terms of a new contract after the league nixed a prior contract extension because of language in it.

The reinstatement talks follow Tuesday's decision by former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue in the bounty case.

He threw out the suspensions against the four players, while 'strongly condemning the misconduct of the Saints coaches found by commissioner Goodell.'

Tagliabue said 'senior Saints coaches conceived, encouraged, and directed' the alleged bounty program, then led a 'deliberate, unprecedented, and effective effort to obstruct the NFL's investigation.'

At this point, it appears both the league and the Saints are beginning to look past the bounty case and turmoil that has plagued the Saints in 2012, and focus on the future.

It is a good bet Payton wants to get back to work rebuilding his team as soon as possible, an analyst said.'s Bradley Handwerger contributed to this report.

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