Advertisement

Do the Saints have the least-desirable offensive coordinator opening in 2024?

Teams in the NFL tell you a lot of things by how they spends their money, but that’s also true of the hiring pool. The best candidates for, say, an open offensive coordinator job are going to quickly cut a deal with the best opportunities for success. If a team doesn’t look like a good landing spot, it won’t attract good candidates.

So, no: it’s clear by now that the New Orleans Saints are not seen as one of the best opportunities for coaches looking to call plays as an offensive coordinator. If that were the case they would have landed one of the best candidates like Shane Waldron (who picked the Chicago Bears instead) or Zac Robinson (who preferred his fit with the Atlanta Falcons).

Every situation is different. Some coaches may feel differently about some teams than others. How they would rank the remaining openings — including the Saints — differs from one candidate to the next. It’s possible that some coaches look at New Orleans and decide they have a better chance of success somewhere else. But the difference can’t be that great. Let’s take a look at what each of the remaining vacancies has to offer:

New Orleans Saints

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s start at the top. The Saints themselves are a good jumping-off point because we can get an idea of what we’re comparing. We’re looking at some basic facts about each job opening:

  • Established head coach: Yes

  • Established quarterback: Yes

  • Returning starters: 9 of 11

  • Top-100 draft picks: 2

  • Projected salary cap space: -$83.6 million

The Saints are bringing back their head coach and quarterback, which suggests short-term stability, but how highly Dennis Allen and Derek Carr are regarded may differ from one person to the next. Neither of them have won a playoff game and Allen’s sub-.400 record is uninspiring. But Carr is the unquestioned starter so long as Allen is coaching this team.

Just two starters are headed for free agency, though, and left tackle Andrus Peat could return on an affordable contract. It doesn’t seem like Michael Thomas is coming back, however, and the Saints lack both draft picks and salary cap space to replace him. It can be done, but other teams have more resources to offer in upgrading the roster. Depending on how you look at it, this much continuity may not be appealing; a new coach might want his own players.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
  • Established head coach: Yes

  • Established quarterback: Maybe

  • Returning starters: 8 of 11

  • Top-100 draft picks: 3

  • Projected salary cap space: $37.2 million

The Bucs probably saw enough from Baker Mayfield in their playoff push to commit to him long-term, but you never know. A new coordinator might want to go in a different direction, and they could get involved with the free agent market. At the same time they need to work things out with Mike Evans and plug a big hole at left guard. Upgrading the running back position would be helpful, too, and if Mayfield’s extension doesn’t break the bank then Tampa should be able to address their problems.

Is Todd Bowles a more appealing boss than Dennis Allen? He has a better record (.426 versus .343) and back-to-back NFC South titles. His last offensive coordinator used this opportunity as a springboard to land a head coaching gig of his own. Deciding whether to tie your future to a volatile quarterback like Mayfield isn’t easy, and life without Evans would be challenging. It’s easy to see why this job is still open.

Seattle Seahawks

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
  • Established head coach: No

  • Established quarterback: Maybe

  • Returning starters: 10 of 11

  • Top-100 draft picks: 3

  • Projected salary cap space: -$4.4 million

It’ll take a while for this situation to play out because the Seahawks are still looking for their head coach, who may or may not call plays on offense. Until that clears up this is a job most candidates have to look at with skepticism. Sure, the Seahawks are bringing back a lot of talent in 2024, but they can get out of their contract with starting quarterback Geno Smith if they want to. Tight end Noah Fant is their only offensive starter hitting the free agent market. Depending on how the head coach search plays out, this could be a very appealing fit.

Las Vegas Raiders

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  • Established head coach: Yes

  • Established quarterback: No

  • Returning starters: 6 of 11

  • Top-100 draft picks: 3

  • Projected salary cap space: $36 million

The Raiders have a lot of questions to answer. Three of their five starting offensive linemen are free agents in March and star running back Josh Jacobs still hasn’t received a long-term contract extension. Jimmy Garoppolo was a big bust in free agency last year, but getting out of his contract is not too difficult. The good news is that Antonio Pierce returns as head coach and he’s very well-liked by his players. Having a good boss makes things easier. The bad news is one of their best players, wide receiver Davante Adams, may want out which leaves a big void in the receiving corps.

So while this is far from an ideal situation, there are enough reasons encouragement and enough resources to spend on tailoring the offense, well, to your offense. The Raiders can be competitive in free agency. They’re positioned well to add some impactful rookies. The most challenging aspect might be playing in the AFC West against all-star quarterbacks and head coaches.

Los Angeles Chargers

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  • Established head coach: No

  • Established quarterback: Yes

  • Returning starters: 8 of 11

  • Top-100 draft picks: 3

  • Projected salary cap space: -$45.8 million

You could make the argument that Jim Harbaugh is an established head coach despite this being his first year with the Chargers; his run with the San Francisco 49ers in the early 2010’s was that good. Beyond that, Justin Herbert is one of the best quarterbacks of his generation, and owning the fifth overall pick in this draft class is going to be useful in either better protecting Herbert or getting him another weapon.

Navigating that salary cap situation will be a challenge. Some talented players may have to be let go, including leading receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, so a new coordinator’s first job may be choosing which of them to keep. This job will come with high expectations in the heart of a competitive division.

Tennessee Titans

George Walker IV-USA TODAY Sports
George Walker IV-USA TODAY Sports
  • Established head coach: No

  • Established quarterback: No

  • Returning starters: 5 of 11

  • Top-100 draft picks: 2

  • Projected salary cap space: $68.1 million

The Titans are a unique situation because they aren’t looking for a play caller — head coach Brian Callahan will handle those duties. That alone is going to  make this job less appealing than many others. Callahan may have gotten a head coaching gig while working in Zac Taylor’s shadow, but that doesn’t mean others will enjoy the same luck.

This is a team without a quarterback (unless you really, really believe in Will Levis) and without anything at wide receiver outside a late-career DeAndre Hopkins. Their offensive line is a mess and superstar running back Derrick Henry is likely leaving for greener pastures when his contract expires in February. There’s a lot of work to do be done in rebuilding this offense and little credit to go around for doing it. At least they’re flush with salary cap space.

New England Patriots

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
  • Established head coach: No

  • Established quarterback: No

  • Returning starters: 5 of 11

  • Top-100 draft picks: 3

  • Projected salary cap space: $66 million

Like the Titans, the Patriots can say they have money to spend on free agents. But they also have a well-liked, defensive-minded head coach  in Jerod Mayo who can give his play caller a lot of autonomy. Their biggest challenge is lacking a quarterback and owning the No. 3 overall pick puts them in good position to check that box.

Still, this was a bad offense last year, and it may be necessary to cut more dead weight while letting players go in free agency. There should be a lot of turnover and a new coordinator will have their hands full getting the right pieces into the right positions. It won’t be an easy task by any means, and competing in a tough AFC East with the playoff-hungry Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins, plus the well-coached New York Jets, adds a lot of hurdles that may turn off other coaches.

Maybe: Washington Commanders

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
  • Established head coach: No

  • Established quarterback: No

  • Returning starters: 9 of 11

  • Top-100 draft picks: 4

  • Projected salary cap space: $73.6 million

This is a tricky situation. Washington hasn’t let Eric Bieniemy go because a new head coach might want to retain him as offensive coordinator, so this could all be moot (they might even name him head coach; he did interview for the job). But if he is ultimately dismissed and a new coach wants a new play caller, this could be a hot opening. A lot of starters are returning which gives them a high floor. No team has more cap space and they own enough draft picks to do whatever they want, including the second overall selection. It isn’t open yet, but if it does open up then a lot of eyes could turn to Washington.

Maybe: New York Giants

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
  • Established head coach: Yes

  • Established quarterback: Yes

  • Returning starters: 7 of 11

  • Top-100 draft picks: 4

  • Projected salary cap space: $21.8 million

In a similar vein to Washington’s situation, the Giants job could open up soon. Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka has been named as a dark horse candidate for the Seattle head coaching gig. If he leaves, Big Blue could enter the market for a replacement. Head coach Brian Daboll hasn’t called plays as of late, though he could, which makes this a murky situation. Combine that with a modest salary cap outlook and some uncertainty on offense (Saquon Barkley still does not have a long-term deal) and it isn’t the most appealing option. Daniel Jones is coming off an injury and needs to play really well to justify his contract, so coaching him up may be challenging.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire