Will the Saints hire Jon Gruden? Former Raiders coach rumored to be candidate for Dennis Allen’s staff

The Saints appear to be running it back with Dennis Allen as their head coach in 2024, but there could still be one key addition to his staff.

New Orleans failed to reach the playoffs in either of Allen’s first two seasons after taking over for Sean Payton, finishing 8-9 in 2022 and struggling to take advantage of a weak NFC South this season despite improving to 9-8. 

Comfortable wins over the Buccaneers and Falcons to close out the season took some of the pressure off Allen, however. With Derek Carr showing signs of improvement late in the year, the Saints’ hope is that the offense can find a new gear in 2024 and power the team back to the playoffs. Jon Gruden just might be the coach who can unlock it.

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Here’s what you need to know about the Saints’ rumored consideration of Gruden for a spot on their coaching staff. 

Will the Saints hire Jon Gruden?

NOLA.com’s Jeff Duncan reported Monday that the Saints are considering adding Gruden to their coaching staff and had dinner with the Super Bowl-winning coach before their Week 17 game against the Buccaneers.

The Saints are “expected to make changes to their coaching staff” after missing the playoffs, though Allen is believed to be safe. The report adds that longtime offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael is also believed to be safe, with Gruden’s potential addition likely coming in an assistant role rather than the offensive coordinator role.

Duncan likened the situation to the 2015 Saints, when Allen was brought in as a senior defensive assistant before taking over as defensive coordinator after the midseason firing of Rob Ryan. That doesn’t necessarily mean Carmichael would be on borrowed time if Gruden were hired, but it indicates the Saints would expect Gruden to have heavy influence over the offense if he is brought on. 

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The Saints have already connected with Gruden once before, as the former Raiders coach spent time with the team as a consultant during offseason activities before the 2023 season. That was Gruden’s first involvement with an NFL team since he resigned as head coach of the Raiders in 2021 following a leak of controversial emails.

Because Gruden is currently suing the NFL for alleged damages to his reputation, the process of hiring him may not be as simple as adding any other coaching candidate. While Gruden comes with that controversial history, he also has a reputation as one of the league’s premier offensive gurus. He led the Buccaneers to a win in Super Bowl 37 and reached the AFC championship game during his first stint with the Raiders.

After an inconsistent season for Carr and the Saints’ offense, the offensive-minded Gruden might be an ideal complement to a defensive-minded Allen. Such an addition, however, could increase speculation that Gruden could be Allen’s eventual replacement should New Orleans struggle to break through in the NFC South.

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