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Payton to get four-year contract

The last NFL head coaching vacancy is about to be filled.

Cowboys top assistant Sean Payton has agreed in principle to be the next head coach of the Raiders, ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli confirmed Tuesday. Payton will sign a four-year deal for between $1.3 and $1.5 million per year, according to Pasquarelli. The Raiders have not confirmed the deal, but will announce it at a Thursday news news conference, according to Pasquarelli.

Various newspapers had reported earlier Tuesday that a deal between Payton and the Raiders was imminent.

Payton was stripped of play-calling duties by then-Giants coach Jim Fassel in 2002 and joined Bill Parcells' staff in Dallas last season. He was credited with helping quarterback Quincy Carter, who started all 16 games and threw for 3,302 yards with 17 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.

Cowboys offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon had been considered the other finalist for the job. "I'm out of the running," Carthon told the Contra Costa Times on Tuesday. "They're going to go in a different direction. Sean's going to get that job. He's out there now working out the details, and it could be announced later (Tuesday). Sean's their guy."