The absence of head coach Sean Payton was greatly felt as the New Orleans Saints aren’t even in playoff contention following successful seasons.  Payton was suspended for a year following the bounty scandal and when he returns to the sideline he’ll have a hefty salary to greet him.  In fact he’ll be the highest paid coach in any sport.  Read more after the jump.

Shay Marie

Sean Payton’s five-year contract extension with the New Orleans Saints is expected to pay him more than $8 million annually, which should establish him as the NFL’s highest paid coach, a league source said.

Payton and Saints owner Tom Benson only have agreed in principle to the extension. The contract has yet to be approved by the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell, who refused to validate a 2011 agreement between the team and Payton because of a clause that permitted Payton to leave the franchise if general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended, fired or otherwise left the front office.

Had the NFL let Payton become a free agent, he would’ve been the most sought after coach in the league.  Payton however maintained that he wanted to remain with the Saints, the team he coached to a Super Bowl victory following the 2009 season.  After his year long suspension, Payton will be eligible for reinstatement on Feb. 4, the day after New Orleans hosts the Super Bowl.