The Saints are expected to make changes to their coaching staff in the wake of their disappointing 2023 season, and former NFL head coach Jon Gruden is being considered as a possible addition, sources said Monday.
Gruden, a Super Bowl-winning coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, recently visited with Saints officials during the team’s Week 17 road trip to Tampa, Florida, where Gruden has a home. He attended a team meeting the night before the Saints’ game against the Buccaneers and dined with staff, including Loomis, at a local restaurant later that evening, sources said.
The exact nature of visit with Gruden in Tampa is unclear, but a source familiar with the situation said there is mutual interest between the parties if Gruden does not land a head coaching offer during the upcoming NFL hiring cycle.
Saints head coach Dennis Allen declined to discuss specifics when asked at his end-of-season press conference Monday if he would make changes to the team's offensive coaching staff. He said he and the team's brain trust would "look at everything" when they meet this week to evaluate the 2023 season.
"I'm not going to go into any of those details in terms of what changes will occur," Allen said during his 45-minute briefing with local reporters at the Saints’ Metairie training complex. “But there's things that will have to be different.”
Gruden likely would be an addition to the Saints offensive staff rather than a replacement for offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael or another coach in an existing role, the source said. The Saints made a similar move in 2015 when they added Allen to the staff as a senior defensive assistant while Rob Ryan was defensive coordinator. Allen was promoted into the coordinator’s role 10 months later when Ryan was fired.
Gruden attended Saints training camp in August and the team’s minicamp in May as a non-paid observer. Gruden also visited Saints training camp as an observer in 2009.
Gruden has a strong relationship with quarterback Derek Carr, having coached him for three-plus seasons in Oakland/Las Vegas.
Carr passed for more than 4,000 yards in each of the four seasons he played for Gruden and posted the two highest passer efficiency ratings of his career in 2019 (100.8) and 2020 (101.4).
“We always consider new ideas,” Allen said when asked if he would consider making systematic changes or implementing new ideas to the offensive scheme this offseason. “ … I do think there’s some things that we do offensively that have proven to work in our league, and I think we want to keep some of those things. And yet, I think we maybe need to look at how we can do things differently, too.”
Gruden, 60, won a Super Bowl as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003. His first head coaching job was with the Oakland Raiders from 1998-2001. He was traded by the Raiders to the Bucs in 2002 and served as the head coach there for seven seasons.
In 2021, he resigned as the head coach in Las Vegas after racist, sexist and homophobic emails he sent when he was an ESPN announcer were made public in news reports. The emails were sent from 2011-18 to former Washington Commanders executive Bruce Allen and were discovered amid emails the league obtained during an investigation into the workplace culture of the Washington football team.
Gruden has sued the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell, claiming that the leaks damaged his personal reputation and destroyed his career. He is seeking monetary damages.
A hearing in the case is expected to be conducted in the Nevada Supreme Court on Wednesday.