Haslett Will Return As Saints' Coach

Saturday, January 8th 2005, 10:54 am
By: News On 6

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Jim Haslett has been told by New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson that he will return for a sixth season as coach.

Haslett's five-year record of 42-38 is the second best in team history behind Jim Mora's 93-78 mark. The Saints, however, have missed the playoffs four straight years. This season, New Orleans started 4-8 but won its final four games to finish 8-8.

``There's been a lot of speculation about the coach the whole year, and we wanted to get that behind us as quick as possible,'' general manager Mickey Loomis said. ``We're strongly behind Jim. He's our coach. We strongly believe that he is going to lead this team to a championship.''

Haslett declined comment Saturday.

Loomis said Benson met with Haslett on Friday in West Palm Beach, Fla., where the owner has been on vacation. Loomis also met with Haslett during the week.

``Jim and I met several times during the week to talk about things we need to improve on and set the tone for the next year,'' Loomis said. ``Jim had to get some feelings on the table and we had to get that behind us.''

Haslett has two years remaining on a five-year contract that pays him an average of $3 million a season. He signed the five-year extension in August 2002.

``Mr. Benson has been in Jim's corner all along,'' Loomis said. ``He never ever came out and made any references to not having Jim here. This was just an affirmation that Jim's our head coach.''