The multiyear contract extension the New Orleans Saints gave to suspended coach Sean Payton in September of 2011 was voided by the NFL, sources told ESPN.com Sunday.
If the deal is voided, Payton will be a free agent at the end of the season.
Payton was suspended for a season by the league for his suspected role in the Saints bounty scandal. His status with New Orleans after this season is questionable because he will likely be a heavily sought-after coach.
However, the NFL issued a statement saying that it has “made no determination” on Payton's contract status for next year.
“All contracts between clubs and their employees must be approved by the commissioner, and we do not comment on specific terms of individual contracts,” the statement said. “Any comment regarding the matter should come from Coach Payton and the Saints.”
Payton told Fox Sports on Sunday morning that he “absolutely plans” on staying with the Saints, regardless of his contract status.
Payton was reportedly told by commissioner Roger Goodell in March when he appealed his suspension that his contract was not satisfactory as constructed. The league took issue with it because it contained a clause that Payton could void the deal if general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended, fired, or left the Saints.
The contract was rejected before Loomis was suspended for eight games in the bounty scandal.
Payton and the league made attempts to resolve the issue with the contract since the beginning of the season but were unsuccessful.