Marching in place: Payton wants extension to stay with Saints

NEW ORLEANS -- Saints coach Sean Payton said Tuesday that he "absolutely" wants a contract extension and already has spoken to general manager Mickey Loomis about it.

While attending the NFL Annual Meeting, Payton said he and Loomis have laid out a list of priorities for the team, including matters such as signing quarterback Drew Brees to an extension as well.

Payton, who has two years remaining on his current contract, said he couldn't put a timeline on when his extension might be done.

"There's a time for that, and it's not necessarily March or April, but it's on the list," Payton said. "It's something that when the time comes, I think I would have a strong interest in going through that."

Payton said he is aware of "speculation" that he is interested in coaching elsewhere, which he said likely arose from his decision earlier this year to move his family to suburban Dallas, where he once was an assistant with the Cowboys.

"The speculation arises from that more than anything else," Payton said. "It's not a big topic otherwise."

Payton, who maintains a residence in New Orleans, said travel back and forth between the cities has been easy.

"I know I'll make it work from an efficiency standpoint. I mean, I jump out of here today for instance, and I'm on a flight and I'm there an hour, an hour and 10 minutes, we land," Payton said. "What's interesting is the people have been unbelievable when I'm at the airport, when I'm out last night (at) the restaurants, because they want us to win."

Payton said he understood why his move was news in New Orleans, but he also believes it was blown out of proportion with the intensity of the coverage, particularly when he saw news helicopters flying above his house.

"The people want someone who's productive, someone who's going to win, someone who can continue to win," Payton said. "We're graded on what we do. Two losing seasons in a row, and they, along with everyone else, are going to help you move. So it really is just that, a personal decision. And it's that simple. Now I know it's been made more complicated, but it's that simple."

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Payton also said he doesn't believe his new Dallas-area residence should become an issue if the Saints struggle at some point next season.

"I think the first rough patch we hit is a rough patch anyway," Payton said. "I might get a dumb question about it. ... but I don't think that will happen."

As far as next year's roster is concerned, Payton said he's fairly confident running back Reggie Bush will be on it.

"He's a guy that we feel will be a part of our team," Payton said. "... He's a guy that we had a lot of dialogue with prior to (the lockout)."

Bush is due more than $11 million next season under his current contract, but he has acknowledged that he might have to renegotiate -- and possibly take a pay cut -- to remain with the Saints.

"I think he's got a pretty good grasp of the economy and where he's at," Payton said. "That's a big strength, especially when a player knows who he is and the type of team he's with. That's not a sure thing because, hey, there might be another suitor possibly, but I think he has a genuine desire to play here. I think the feeling is mutual."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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