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ctillman 08-07-2002 09:00 PM

From Saints Now Newsletter: Haslett Extension

In a move that secures the future of the coach who led the club to the first playoff victory in franchise history, was voted NFL Coach of the Year in 2000 and already ranks second among the team's 13 head coaches with a winning percentage of .531, the New Orleans Saints have signed Coach Jim Haslett to a four-year contract extension, it was announced today by Owner Tom Benson and General Manager of Football Operations Mickey Loomis.

Today's extension keeps Haslett under contract with the Saints through 2006, but the contract allows the opportunity to extend beyond 2006 and run through the 2010 season, based on the performance of the team. The additional extension will be automatically triggered each year by the Saints winning the NFC South. Haslett was hired as Head Coach on Feb. 3, 2000.

It was also announced today by the club that contract extensions have been offered to all assistant coaches.

"This is a long-term commitment by the Saints to Jim Haslett, who we believe is one of the most talented and dedicated coaches in the NFL," said Loomis. "This solidifies the stability of the franchise. From a negotiations standpoint, Mr. Benson deserves all the credit for stepping up and making this happen so quickly. His dedication to getting this deal finished before the season started made this an easy process for Jim and I to complete."

Said Benson: "Jim has proven over the last two years that he has everything NFL teams are looking for in a leader. Stability is hard to come by in this league, and in Jim we have a good, young coach who is dedicated to winning for the fans of the Saints and the city of New Orleans. That's why we put so much effort into getting this deal finished now. This allows him to concentrate on the upcoming season without any distractions surrounding his contract situation."

Haslett led New Orleans to a 31-28 win over the St. Louis Rams in the NFC Wild Card Playoff on Dec. 30, 2000, marking the first postseason win in team record books. Over the past two seasons, the Saints' defense has posted an NFL-high 119 sacks, the top total in club history over a two-year span. New Orleans has also ranked 10th in the league in offense in 2000-2001, marking only the fourth and fifth times in team annals that the Saints have closed a year ranked among the NFL's top 10 on offense.

"I'm excited about signing this four-year extension," said Haslett. "We've started a program here that is heading in the right direction. We've been working hard since 2001 ended to create a winner this season, and this contract extension is even more evidence of Mr. Benson's commitment to building a consistent winner. My family wanted to stay in New Orleans and so did I, so we are grateful to have this extension."

Haslett was named the 13th head coach in franchise history in 2000 after spending the previous three seasons (1997-99) as the defensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It kicked off Haslett's second stint in New Orleans after he served as linebackers coach in 1995 and defensive coordinator in 1996. In his first season as coordinator, New Orleans improved from 22nd to 13th in the NFL in defense.

Haslett, who has also led New Orleans to an 11-5 record on the road since becoming head coach, is an 18-year veteran of the NFL as a player and a coach.

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