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Report: Saints, Payton can talk contract

The SportsXchange

The New Orleans Saints have received permission from the NFL to work out a new contract with suspended coach Sean Payton, according to a New Orleans Times-Picayune report.

Despite being barred from speaking with the team during his suspension for the team's bounty scandal, the two sides can communicate regarding his contract situation, the Picayune said.

If the two sides can't reach an agreement, Payton would be allowed to negotiate with any team.

He may not get that far, as Saints owner Tom Benson is considering making Payton the highest-paid coach in football, according to a report, citing league sources.

Benson has long thought of Payton as the best coach in the sport, and hasn't forgotten the man who led the Saints to a Super Bowl championship.

The report said that Benson wants get something done quickly to short-circuit potential future suitors.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees feels that he will play for Payton in 2013.

"I absolutely believe he'll be back," Brees told reporters after Monday night's win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Linebacker Scott Shanle sounded less optimistic.

"We'd be crazy if we said we weren't worried about it, but at the same time, that's out of our control," Shanle told reporters. "We can't do anything about it. We can't let that story and that development sidetrack us from what we're trying to do."

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