The New Orleans Saints have several vacancies after an unprecedented coaching staff turnover this offseason. Former tight ends coach Dan Campbell and secondary coach Aaron Glenn are now the head coach and defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions, respectively. Additionally, Assistant GM/VP of Pro Personnel Terry Fontenot is now the Atlanta Falcons General Manager, and quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi has an elevated role with the Los Angeles Chargers as their new offensive coordinator.
The Saints didn’t waste much time filling one of those vacancies; per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, New Orleans has hired Kris Richard as the new secondary coach to replace Aaron Glenn. Richard has previously served as the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks from 2015-17, and the defensive backs coach/defensive play caller for the Dallas Cowboys from 2018-19.
Typically, the Saints have shown a desire to promote internally, when possible. It’s hard to pass someone up with the caliber of Richard. But, for personnel vacancies like Terry Fontenot, the promotion is more likely to come from within. More specifically, the role will likely revert back to director of pro personnel. Fontenot was promoted to Assistant GM/VP of Pro Personnel for the 2020 season, just like Jeff Ireland.
We’ve looked at top candidates to replace Dan Campbell and Joe Lombardi. To see previous parts, click below:
New Orleans Saints: Candidates for vacant TE coach position
New Orleans Saints: Candidates for vacant QB coach position
Let’s go through the top internal candidates for the Saints new Director of Pro Personnel.
#NFLWave in a different way— Tulane University Football (@GreenWaveFB) May 15, 2020
Thank you to members of the @Saints Player Personnel Department AND former Tulane Football players Michael Parenton (Class of ’09) and Terry Fontenot (Class of ’04) for helping our staff go from #Good2Great ‼️‼️#WhoDat x #RollWave pic.twitter.com/FI74tbbHbR
Director of pro personnel: Michael Parenton – Pro Scout
Coaching Profile: Former NFL offensive lineman Michael Parenton has been with the Saints since 2012. He has spent nine seasons within the personnel department, and seven as a pro scout. For his first two seasons, Parenton served as a scouting assistant.
Prior to New Orleans, Parenton was a team captain and four-year letterman at Tulane University, where he was an All-Conference USA selection all four seasons. Parenton graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in finance; he also earned his Masters of Accounting degree. He played two games with the New York Jets in 2009 after being signed as an undrafted free agent.
When looking at internal promotions for vacancies on the Saints staff, it’s helpful to consider the starting point of the person departing. Much like Parenton, Terry Fontenot was also a four-year letterman safety for Tulane, served as team captain, and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Organizational Information Technology. Fontenot was promoted to Director of Pro Scouting after he spent seven seasons with the organization as a pro scout. His key duties included evaluating and rating current professional players, as well as acquisitions through free agency or the waiver wire. For several seasons, Fontenot was a pro scouting assistant, and an assistant in player personnel.
Michael Parenton has followed a pretty similar trajectory. Specifically, he’s spent exactly seven seasons as a pro scout as well, including previous seasons as a pro scouting assistant. Notable free agency acquisitions under Fontenot’s tenure include TE Benjamin Watson, G Larry Warford, LB A.J. Klein, OL Nick Easton, RB Latavius Murray, TE Jared Cook, S Malcolm Jenkins, WR Emmanuel Sanders, and QB Jameis Winston. The organization has retained a highly talented roster for the last several years, and have won four consecutive NFC South division titles under Fontenot. Most importantly, the ever-present tough cap situations have been skillfully handled by Fontenot and Loomis.
Which brings us to this upcoming season. New Orleans has 21 players set to become free agents in the 2021 season, with 19 of those as unrestricted free agents (UFA). This doesn’t include decisions on key extensions for players like Ryan Ramczyk and Marshon Lattimore. With the number of contracts in limbo, and the restricted cap this upcoming season, the director of pro personnel is a key role for the Saints to fill.
Moreover, it leans heavily towards an internal promotion; the team will need someone keenly familiar with not just these relevant player contracts, but also the team makeup as a whole. Knowing who the team can and can’t lose is paramount. New Orleans has indicated just as much. While remaining coy, per usual, on the multiple vacancies, Mickey Loomis hinted towards an internal promotion to replace Fontenot in his most recent press conference.
“Yeah, look, Terry Fontenot has been fantastic for us. And we’re excited that he gets this opportunity,” Loomis said. “We have some guys in the building that we have a lot of faith in and talented guys. And so, we’ll adapt. Look, you never like to lose good people, both in the personnel and the coaching side. But we’re excited for all those guys and the opportunities they’ve received.”
Should New Orleans decide to promote from within, Michael Parenton is a top candidate. He’s accrued comparable experience to Fontenot prior to his promotion to director of pro personnel, and would allow for continuity in the front office behind key personnel decisions this offseason. As mentioned, it’s not just the 21 player contracts up this season, but previous season departures, vision of the team moving forward, and decisions to cut or extend pre-existing contracts.
All these decisions require acute knowledge of the team makeup. No external candidate can match that necessary level of intel to push out someone like Parenton. More than the coach positions, this role may prove paramount to the identity of the Saints team moving forward.
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