NEW ORLEANS — The Saints and suspended coach Sean Payton will indeed be together again next season as the bounty scandal fades into history and the bid to win a second Super Bowl resumes.
Payton agreed in principle to a multiyear contract extension, the Associated Press reported.
AP reported that final details regarding the length of the contract and compensation are still being worked out.
"Very happy it is official," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said in an email to the AP. "Never had any doubts."
Payton was due to begin his seventh season as Saints coach in 2012 before being suspended for the season by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in connection with the NFL's bounty investigation. In 2011, Payton signed an extension through 2015, but Goodell objected to certain language in that deal. The language in question in the previous extension gave Payton the right to opt out early if general manager Mickey Loomis left the club for any reason.
The new agreement, first reported by Fox Sports, also must be approved by the NFL.
BROWN'S BAD MEMORY?: Former offensive lineman Lomas Brown, an analyst for ESPN, told CBS that he incorrectly remembered the play on which he admitted to letting a defender go so Lions quarterback Scott Mitchell would get hurt. A video was posted on Youtube (search for "1994 Lomas Brown gives up on Scott Mitchell) but the defender Brown blocked was not Sean Jones, who hit Mitchell.
RYAN ADAMANT HE'S STAYING: Jets coach Rex Ryan vehemently defended his desire to stay, saying a published report that he wanted to leave if the offense isn't upgraded was "totally untrue" and adding: "I was as mad as a hornet." The New York Daily News cited anonymous team and league sources saying that Ryan would prefer to be fired if owner Woody Johnson did not spend money to improve the offense.
BEARS: After finishing a full practice, running back Matt Forte said he expects to start Sunday despite an ankle injury.
BROWNS: Injured quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy are not practicing, so third-stringer Thad Lewis will make his first start in Sunday's finale at Pittsburgh.
JAGUARS: Star running back Maurice Jones-Drew had surgery on his left foot and will be out at least until May. The operation came 10 weeks after Jones-Drew was hurt at Oakland.
RAIDERS: Terrelle Pryor will make his first career start at quarterback in Sunday's finale at San Diego, replacing the injured Carson Palmer.
FINES: The league fined Ravens safety Ed Reed $55,000 for his high hit on Giants receiver Victor Cruz last weekend. Reed struck Cruz in the head and neck area, and was penalized on the play. Carolina quarterback Cam Newton was fined $21,000 for abusive conduct toward a game official, and another $10,000 for kicking Oakland's Tommy Kelly after a play. Other notable penalties: Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy ($25,000) and safety Charles Godfrey ($21,000), Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork ($30,000) and Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson ($21,000).