There's a really good chance that both of the New Orleans Saints' co-defensive coordinators end up working for division rivals. Ryan Nielsen already left town for the Atlanta Falcons' job, and the Carolina Panthers may turn to Kris Richard after missing out on Vic Fangio (who is joining the Miami Dolphins, where Richard also interviewed). Carolina requested an interview with Richard prior to naming Frank Reich their head coach and he would have more advancement opportunities with the Panthers than with the Saints.
Even if the Saints named Richard their full-time defensive coordinator, head coach Dennis Allen still calls plays for that side of the ball, but Richard would enjoy more autonomy with another team. The Panthers could offer him the headset and a talented roster to work with. He's had success in the past as a coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks and once got looks as a head coach in his own right. Picking up play-calling duties again would help to restore his profile around the league.
For now, the question is whether Reich would want Richard on his staff in Carolina. He's got several promising candidates on his radar including Gus Bradley, the former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach who worked well with Reich for several years on the Indianapolis Colts. Richard was once Bradley's assistant in Seattle and they run a lot of similar concepts. If the Colts aren't willing to release Bradley from his contract, maybe Reich pivots to Richard instead. Or he may just like Richard's fit better from the jump.
But we're getting out in front of our skis here. There are a ton of moving parts around the league and it's very possible the Saints manage to hold onto Richard as defensive coordinator. He's been critically important for their draft-and-develop approach in the secondary by coaching up young standouts Alontae Taylor, Paulson Adebo, J.T. Gray, and former draft picks like C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Williams. You'd like to keep him around and maintain some continuity on that side of the ball, but if Richard is determined to be a play caller again, Carolina might be his best opportunity.
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Story originally appeared on Saints Wire