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Sean Payton expected to keep contract options open

The controversy surrounding suspended New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has quieted down over the last week, which may be by design. Don't expect any movement to the story anytime soon.

Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune writes that Payton will probably not make an immediate decision about his future because he wants to keep his options open.

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"From talking with sources throughout the past two weeks, it seems like the only serious threat that could pry Coach Sean Payton away from the New Orleans Saints would be an offer from the Dallas Cowboys," Triplett writes. "There is no indication that Payton is unhappy in New Orleans or looking to leave the Saints.

"But the fact that Payton's children live in Dallas would be a major factor if he winds up having a choice to make between the two teams -- in addition to his high esteem for Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the aura of the Cowboys' franchise, among other factors."

Triplett goes on to write that the Saints aren't expected to push Payton to make a decision soon. The team and Payton have permission to negotiate, but it feels like Payton is stalling somewhat to get the best leverage possible. Here's the key part of the article, in our view:

"If Payton wanted to make a move for family reasons, the Saints likely wouldn't want to force him to stay against his will," Triplett writes.

That's huge. If the NFL ruled that Payton still has a year left in his contract, there's a possibility the team could let him move on anyhow.

The Cowboys job, of course, may not be available. It may feel awkward, but Saints fans hoping to keep Payton should root for Dallas to make a run to the playoffs.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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