10:35 PM ET
METAIRIE, La. — The New Orleans Saints will retain longtime offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. under new head coach Dennis Allen, sources confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday.
The news was first reported by NFL Network.
The Saints considered external candidates, including reported interviews with former Washington head coach Jay Gruden and current Indianapolis Colts running backs coach Scottie Montgomery among others. But they ultimately decided to stick with Carmichael, who has been with the team since he first joined Sean Payton’s original staff in 2006.
Carmichael, 50, was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2009 and called plays in 2011, 2012 and 2016. He was instrumental in designing and developing the Saints’ prolific offense alongside Payton and quarterback Drew Brees – whom he also coached early in Brees’ career with the San Diego Chargers.
The Saints have not yet announced their choice to replace Allen as defensive coordinator. Defensive line coach/assistant head coach Ryan Nielsen and secondary coach Kris Richard are among the leading internal candidates, though the Saints have also considered external candidates including Los Angeles Chargers linebackers coach Michael Wilhoite and Detroit Lions defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator Aubrey Pleasant.
Allen and Saints general manager Mickey Loomis both made it clear after Payton decided to step away from coaching that they aren’t looking to overhaul a team that has the NFL’s second-best regular-season record over the past five seasons. And Allen said he doesn’t “see the offense being run too dissimilarly from what we’ve been able to do in the past” outside of some possible tweaks.
“I think that was one of the unique things about this job is that this was not a broken job. This is a job that has a foundation and culture of winning that’s already been built,” Allen said during his introductory press conference, though he insisted he wants to put his “own spin” on things. “I want to take the lessons that I’ve learned, I want to build upon those lessons, and I want to create my own legacy here with the New Orleans Saints.”
However, the Saints do need to find ways to revive an offense that finished 28th in the NFL in total yards and dead last in passing yards in 2021 — much of which can be attributed to a barrage of injuries to quarterback Jameis Winston, All-Pro receiver Michael Thomas and All-Pro offensive tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk.
They have already begun making some changes to their offensive coaching staff, including last week’s hire of former Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone as their offensive line coach. Marrone previously worked with Allen and Carmichael as another member of Payton’s original staff from 2006-2008, servimg as New Orleans’ offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.
New Orleans will also have to choose the right quarterback this offseason, which Allen acknowledged is “the most important decision that you make.”
Winston is certainly a leading candidate to return to the role in 2022, but he is an unsigned free agent. The Saints could also potentially aim high with a trade for an elite quarterback, despite their salary-cap constraints.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano contributed to this report.
Source: ESPN NFL