May 13, 2002

No Deal For Haslett

NOPF's Kenny Wilkerson: It was reported over the weekend that Haslett had agreed to a contract extension. I spoke with Haslett late Sunday night, and he said "there is no contract, the reports are not even close."

Haslett added that he and Tom Benson spoke briefly on Friday. Benson asked if he wanted to still be here as head coach, to which Haslett responded "yes."

Benson told Haslett that they planned on an extension to get Haslett into the top echelon of the NFL coaches but no numbers or terms were discussed.

Based on my conversation it is my opinion that Benson can land a deal with Haslett if he pays him at least what he was paying Mike Ditka, $3 million annually. I doubt Haslett would agree to anything less. I also doubt any deal will take place at all. But that doesn't mean Haslett will be gone. At least not this year.

Look for Haslett to coach out his contact and then test the coaching free agent waters.

I know that the entire Saints world is waiting to find out just what happened last week. All I can tell you right now is, as far as I am concerned, both Mueller and Benson are not telling the truth or at least the whole story.

For Benson to say there was bad communication is a joke. If so why did he wait till now to pull the trigger unless he wanted to one-up a guy who he knew would leave him after the season. For Mueller to say he did not ask for more money is also far from the truth. The truth of the matter is that all season long Benson told Mueller that money was not an issue. But, when the season ended and before Mueller even went to Atlanta on his "fact finding mission," Benson would not come up with the raise that Mueller was seeking.

This is the raise that Mueller and Haslett were seeking since they beat the Rams in the playoffs. Both parties went to training camp last year with chip on their shoulders because Benson had not offered a new deal. The lame excuse was that he had gotten burned with Ditka and did not want the same thing to happen again.

Also both parties make out like there were no issues between Mueller and Fielkow. That too appears to be baloney. It was a huge issue and was well-known throughout the building.

These are all things that are facts and it is our intentions to stay with the facts as they become available. Rest assured there will be more coming in the future but when a story like this takes place, it takes a while for the people that know what happened become willing to talk. But based on what we already know, Benson got the last word and Fielkow was right along with him.

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