Saints players and coaches see only one logical outcome: Payton back in the Bayou.
"Why would he not come back? He's got something to prove," safety Roman Harper said Monday night after the Saints' 28-13 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, according to The Associated Press. "There's nothing like having a man with a chip on his shoulder. This is just another way the NFL is trying to get at us. We just have to keep our minds on things we can control, and that's playing football."
The league voided Payton's contract extension, received in 2011, due to concerns about the language. After discussions, the Saints and the NFL never found a resolution, leading to the questions about his status.
"I absolutely believe he'll be back," quarterback Drew Brees said Monday night.
Players and coaches slugging their way to a 3-5 start without their leader and play caller can't see Payton wearing any colors other than black and gold.
"I haven't seen the report or heard the report," Saints interim coach Joe Vitt said. "I don't want to have any comment, but let me say this: This team loves Sean, and Sean loves this team. This city loves Sean, and Sean loves this city. I think that's a tough combination to beat."
Follow Kevin Patra on Twitter @kpatra.