Brian Allee-Walsh

Payton's deal adds to good news for Saints

BILL HABER/ASSOCIATED PRESSNew Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has agreed to a new five-year deal with the team.
BILL HABER/ASSOCIATED PRESSNew Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has agreed to a new five-year deal with the team. AP

Forget about the divisive presidential election, the world's troubles and whatever else ails you for a moment. There is good news to report from the New Orleans Saints compound.

News of a five-year, $45-plus million contract extension for Sean Payton and that team officials are working on a four-year contract extension for beloved quarterback Drew Brees.

And to think only a few months ago, media vultures were swirling above the team's practice facility in Metairie, La., waiting to pick at their remains in the wake of a third losing season in four years. Payton wanted to shop his services with two years left on a contract, and Brees' over-the-top cap number ($30 million) made him impossible to keep, especially three years shy of 40.

Put 'dem eggs in your Easter basket!

The only thing missing is a multiple-year extension for General Manager Mickey Loomis, a one-two finish by owner Tom Benson's 3-year-old colts, Mo Tom and Tom's Ready, in Saturday's Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds and a quick return to relevancy by the Black in Gold.

Here are my predictions on the last three news items:

n Loomis will get his extension. Bank on it.

n Barring the unexpected, Mo Tom will run in the Kentucky Derby on May 7 at Churchill Downs.

n And the Saints defense will be better this season, which is paramount to the Saints returning to the playoffs.

How 'bout that for going out on a limb? The Saints defense will be better ... Hey, it can't be any worse, right? Truth is, until team officials finish tweaking the defensive side of the ball, the "D'' in Saints defense stands for "Dysfunctional'' with a capital D.

We have been told that free agent linebacker James Laurinaitis has agreed in principle to a three-year contract with the Saints. But until Loomis sifts through the rubble of a bulldozed salary cap, the two parties can't dot the I's and cross the T's.

It'll get done, once Brees' agent, Tom Condon, and Loomis come to a fair and equitable understanding. Until then, Laurinaitis waits impatiently in limbo, and a pending deal with free agent linebacker Craig Robertson continues to percolate.

Laurinaitis and Robertson would be upgrades and provide hope for a better tomorrow.

But let's be honest here. What moves the wow needle -- and makes a pending ticket increase easier to swallow for a loyal fan base -- is Payton's re-upping through 2020 and news that Brees could stay attached at the hip to his friend/coach through this decade.

Payton is 52. Brees is 37.

And Who Dat Nation is forever hopeful.

Brian Allee-Walsh, a long-time Saints reporter based in New Orleans, can be reached at sports@sunherald.com.

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