METAIRIE - After having to sign a lot of players in a short period of time in late July and early August, New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis said there would be plenty of time to work on two other important contracts for coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees.
Loomis completed half of that task Monday when the club announced that Payton, whose contract was scheduled to expire after the 2012 season, agreed to a new deal that will run through 2015.
A contract extension was virtually a foregone conclusion after Payton led the Saints to a 13-3 regular-season record in 2009 and the organization’s first championship in Super Bowl XLIV.
“I am very pleased to announce this contract extension today for Sean that will run through the 2015 season,” owner Tom Benson said in a statement issued by the team. “Our goal is to continue to build a tradition of winning here in New Orleans, and Sean represents that tradition.”
The announcement came less than a week after Brees, who is entering the final season of a six-year, $60 million contract, acknowledged that he and the team have had ongoing talks about extending his current deal.
While there was no deadline or timetable for getting Payton locked up, both he and Loomis were obviously happy to have it completed this soon.
The 48-year-old Payton begins his sixth season as head coach Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field in a highly anticipated matchup of the past two Super Bowl champions.
“I think a coach’s contract is fairly simple to do,” Payton said during his post-practice news conference Monday. “It’s a performance-based business. Our jobs as coaches, our jobs as front office people, and our jobs as players are to be competitive and win.
“When you have that success,” he said, “these types of things happen.”
Loomis said that while it took a little time, he agreed with Payton in saying the deal wasn’t overly complicated.
“It just kind of happened,” Loomis said. “It takes a little while to work out the details. I can say that we’re excited about having Sean continue as the head coach of the New Orleans Saints. We’re looking forward to a lot of great seasons.”
The Saints, of course, are looking for more of what Payton has given them since his arrival in January 2006.
In addition to the Super Bowl win and two appearances in the NFC Championship game, Payton has guided his team to two NFC South titles and a regular-season record of 49-31 with three double-digit win seasons.
Counting his 4-2 playoff, Payton, who’d never been a head coach at any level before being hired by the Saints, has an overall mark of 53-33.
When asked early in the news conference about his good news, Payton began by crediting Benson and Loomis with providing the leadership and continuity needed to maintain the team’s success.
“It is good news, and I’d start by recognizing the significant role Mickey Loomis and Tom Benson have had in not just this contract for me, but the stability and success we’ve had as an organization,” Payton said. “I’m very thankful to have that opportunity here for another five years.”
After being reminded that the new deal could help him complete an entire decade with the team, Payton grinned.
“I also recognize the fluidness of the profession,” he said. “Each year you see six or seven head coaches that are out of jobs. We started awhile back in 2006 to build something that was consistent with trying to build a program.
“That’s something that really never stops. You don’t ever really arrive, you’re just constantly ongoing, developing players, and with the way our league is now, there’s always that turnover in five to six years.
Loomis wouldn’t say how Payton’s salary compares with some of the other top NFL coaches, nor would he say if the deal included incentives.
“It’s a good deal for Sean and a good deal for the club,” Loomis said.
The news was undoubtedly a relief for fans who fretted that Payton would leave the team after his family moved to a Dallas suburb earlier this year.
Loomis, however, said leaving the team was never in Payton’s plans.
“I don’t think going to another team is part of the consideration here at all,” Loomis said. “Sean clearly wanted to remain the head coach of the New Orleans Saints. We clearly wanted him to remain the coach of the New Orleans Saints. It was just a matter of working out the details.”
Payton was asked if he would’ve agreed to a long-term deal unless he was sure Brees, a five-time Pro Bowl pick, would be returning as well.
“I know there have been discussions, (but) I’m not really in that loop per se in regards to a player’s contract like Mickey,” he said. “Yet we have full confidence that it’s coming. This really wasn’t tied to that. It could have very easily happened in a different order.”
Loomis, however, shied away from talk about Brees’ situation.
“Clearly, we’re in discussions with Drew and his guy (agent Tom Condon),” he said. “I think I’ll just leave it at that.”
Saints at Packers
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
WHERE: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis.
RADIO: WTGE-FM, 100.7.