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Saints sign suspended coach Payton through 2017 season

(Reuters) - The New Orleans Saints have signed suspended head coach Sean Payton to a five-year contract extension that will run through the 2017 National Football League (NFL) season, the team said on Wednesday.

Payton is a former Super Bowl-winning coach who missed the 2012 season because of suspension for his role in the team's bounty scandal that saw players given cash rewards for knocking opponents out of games from 2009-2011.

During Payton's absence, the Saints went from a 13-3 team that won the NFC South division title to a 7-9 team that missed the postseason.

"We have already begun preparations for the 2013 season and I look forward to getting Sean back in the building as soon as possible, as I know our fans do as well," Saints owner Tom Benson said in a statement.

Since joining the franchise in early 2006, the Saints have captured three division titles, made the playoffs four times and captured the Super Bowl in the 2009 season.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto. Editing by Patrick Johnston)

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