The Saints officially announced Saturday that coach Sean Payton has agreed to a multiyear contract extension to return following the completion of his season-long bounty-related suspension.
ESPN, citing a league source, reported Payton’s five-year contract extension is expected to pay him more than $8 million annually — which should make him the NFL’s highest paid coach.
Saints spokesman Greg Bensel confirmed Friday evening that Payton agreed in principle to an extension after the original extension he had received in September 2011 was voided by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell because of wording in the contract.
“I am pleased that Sean Payton will be our head coach for a long time,” Saints owner Tom Benson said in a team news release. “Now we can focus our attention on building on the winning tradition with the Saints that Sean has played such a large role in.”
COLSTON CLOSING IN: Saints wide receiver Marques Colston, who on Nov. 25 became the team’s all-time leader with the 56th touchdown of his career, can set another club mark in Sunday’s season finale against the Carolina Panthers in the Superdome.
Colston, a seventh-round draft pick and the 252nd overall selection in 2006, needs just six catches to break the franchise record for career receptions.
He moved into second place with 10 catches in last week’s win at Dallas, bringing his total to 527.
The Saints’ all-time leader is former LSU star Eric Martin, who had 532 receptions from 1985-93.
“He is Mr. Dependable, Mr. Steady,” quarterback Drew Brees said of Colston, a seven-year veteran. “When you need a play, I know I can always count on him.
“He’s really fought through a lot throughout his career, especially this year, just battling injuries and always being there, always being present, always being ready, always being a guy you can count on.”
THOMAS GOES ON IR: The Saints put running back Pierre Thomas, who had been ruled out Sunday’s game because of a knee injury, on injured reserve.
Thomas finishes the season with 473 rushing yards, second on the team behind Mark Ingram, and is also fifth in receiving with 39 catches for 354 yards. He had one touchdown rushing and one receiving.
To take Thomas’ spot on the active roster, the Saints promoted cornerback A.J. Davis from the practice squad.
PATERNOSTRO DIES: Former Saints strength and conditioning Russell Paternostro, a New Orleans-area native, died Friday of respiratory complications at St. Tammany Hospital.
Paternostro, 74, was the Saints strength coach from 1981 to 1996. A popular member of the coaching staff with the players, he served under head coaches Bum Phillips and Jim Mora.
HORNETS TO APPEAR: New Orleans Hornets players Anthony Davis, Greivis Vasquez and Lance Thomas will sign autographs before Sunday’s game from 10:30-11:30 a.m. on the southeast side of the Superdome on the Plaza level.