METAIRIE, La. -- LSU is working to finalize a deal that would make New Orleans Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen its next defensive coordinator, a source confirmed to ESPN.
However, the agreement has not become official yet since Nielsen's contract with the Saints could bar such a move.
Nielsen has a longtime relationship with LSU coach Ed Orgeron. He played under Orgeron as a defensive tackle at USC from 1998 to 2001 and coached on Orgeron's staff at Ole Miss from 2005 to 2007.
The Tigers parted ways with defensive coordinator Bo Pelini last month after just one season. The 2019 national champions fell to 5-5 in 2020 with a depleted roster and coaching staff. They ranked next to last in the SEC in yards allowed.
Before that, LSU had a standout defense under coordinator Dave Aranda for four years before he was hired as Baylor's head coach in 2020.
Nielsen has been a huge asset for the Saints since he arrived in 2017 as a first-time NFL assistant. During that span, the Saints have ranked No. 1 in the NFL in run defense (94.3 yards allowed per game) and third in sacks (187) while winning four straight NFC South titles.
Nielsen helped oversee some of defensive end Cameron Jordan's best seasons (first-team All-Pro in 2017 and second team in 2018 and 2019) while also helping to develop young linemen like tackle David Onyemata and ends Trey Hendrickson and Marcus Davenport.
Before joining the Saints' staff, Nielsen spent four years as the defensive line coach and run game coordinator at NC State. His previous coaching stops were at USC, Idaho, Ole Miss, Central Connecticut State, Tennessee-Martin and Northern Illinois.
The Saints are experiencing some staff turnover after losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the divisional round of the playoffs on Sunday.
Sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter that the Detroit Lions plan to hire Saints tight ends coach/assistant head coach Dan Campbell as their head coach, and the Atlanta Falcons plan to hire Saints vice president/assistant general manager Terry Fontenot as their GM.
The NFL Network first reported that Nielsen intended to take the job at LSU.