The multi-year 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 year.
Payton was suspended for a season for his suspected role in the bounty scandal. His status with the Saints 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 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.
Apparently, the NFL felt that the clause set a bad precedent for other coaching contracts. The contract was rejected before Loomis was suspended in the bounty scandal. Loomis was suspended for the first eight games of this season.
New Orleans is 2-5 and hosts the Philadelphia Eagles Monday night.
Payton and the league made attempts to resolve the issue with the contract since the beginning of the season but were unsuccessful.
The league allowed Payton to work for the NBA's New Orleans Hornets, owned by Saints owner Tom Benson.
ESPN speculated that the Dallas Cowboys will want Payton if the contract is indeed voided. He worked in Dallas as its assistant head coach from 2003-05. During that time, quarterback Tony Romo began his career with the Cowboys. He attended Eastern Illinois, the same college as Payton.
The Cowboys went 8-8 last season under coach Jason Garrett. They are 3-4 heading into Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons. Garrett is in his second year as the team's head coach.