It seems the New Orleans Saints just cannot avoid drama.
Although ESPN.com reports that former Dallas Cowboys assistant Rob Ryan is expected to be hired as the New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator, the New Orleans Times-Picayune says that is not a done deal.
The newspaper reports the Saints will interview University of Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham on Thursday before even talking to Ryan on Friday.
The Saints' newly reinstated head coach, Sean Payton, said on ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike" that two to four candidates would be interviewed for the job. Payton said he was waiting to hear back from other teams to receive permission to interview assistant coaches, and that he plans to make a decision on a defensive coordinator within the next week.
An NFL.com story reported Wednesday that the San Francisco 49ers denied permission for the Saints to talk to secondary coach Ed Donatell, but he already discussed that during Super Bowl week and seemed fine with the decision at the time.
The Saints are seeking a defensive coordinator to replace fired Steve Spagnuolo and head coach Sean Payton says the team's intention is to move to a 3-4 base scheme. That strategic change means Ryan, Crennel and Donatell are justified as potential candidates, although in varying degrees.
Ryan, the son of Buddy Ryan and the brother of New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, has spent decades coaching the 3-4 scheme. Rob was fired as the Dallas Cowboys' defensive coordinator last month and said at the time, "I'll be out of work for like five minutes."
He came close to signing on as the St. Louis Rams' defensive coordinator before the talks broke down. Rams head coach Jeff Fisher issued a statement declaring it wasn't a good scheme fit.
Grantham, 46, spent the past three seasons at Georgia after a decade in the NFL. He was the Indianapolis Colts' defensive line coach from 1999 to 2001, the Houston Texans' defensive line coach from 2002 to 2004, the Cleveland Browns' defensive coordinator from 2005 to 2007, and the Cowboys' defensive line coach from 2008 to 2009.
Crennel and Payton have a common bond in working with Bill Parcells, another 3-4 devotee. However, Pro Football talk references unnamed sources that contend Crennel not only was not among the finalists, he was "never even contacted."
It is the second consecutive year that 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh has denied Donatell permission to talk to another team about a defensive coordinator job. Last year, Harbaugh rejected a request from the Tampa Bay Buccanners.
Donatell discussed this in New Orleans last week with CSNBayArea.com's Matt Maiocco.
"It's fair because I signed that contract," Donatell told Maiocco, referencing a 49ers deal that has one year left. "I had a choice not to. You look at every year and make that decision.
"The gist of the story is, a lot of people would love to be coaching for the 49ers right now. And it's inevitable. He (Harbaugh) wants a big (coaching) tree. This tree is going to go over the next few years. We don't need to rush it. We need to enjoy it."
Although Donatell's secondary had a bad season and a poor Super Bowl, his resume includes ample credentials.
He was defensive coordinator for Green Bay from 2000 to '03 and the Atlanta Falcons from 2004 to '06 and has worked under Eric Mangini with the New York Jets, Mike Nolan with the Denver Broncos and now Vic Fangio with the 49ers.