Kris Richard not returning as Saints' co-defensive coordinator

MOBILE, Ala. -- Kris Richard will not return as the New Orleans Saints' co-defensive coordinator, a source confirmed to ESPN.

The Saints will be looking for a new defensive coordinator for the 2023 season after losing Ryan Nielsen to the Atlanta Falcons last week.

The Saints were not allowed to block interviews for the two assistants because of their unique co-coordinator status, making Nielsen's hiring by the Falcons a promotion instead of a lateral move. The Carolina Panthers requested to interview Richard for their defensive coordinator position earlier in the month before Frank Reich was hired as head coach, and the Miami Dolphins also requested to interview him.

Both assistants received promotions last February after the Saints elevated Dennis Allen from defensive coordinator to head coach. Nielsen was previously assistant head coach/defensive line in 2021, while Richard coached the defensive backs that season.

Nielsen still oversaw the defensive line and Richard was in charge of the secondary even with the promotion, but they did not call the defensive plays. Allen retained playcalling duties in his first season as head coach.

That means the Saints will likely also be looking for a new defensive line coach and new secondary coach in addition to a defensive coordinator in 2023.

If Allen were to give up playcalling this season, it would be the first change at that spot since he took over when the Saints fired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan toward the end of the 2015 season.

The Saints also have an opening at tight ends coach with longtime assistant Dan Roushar not returning. They could also lose Ronald Curry, their quarterbacks coach and passing-game coordinator. Curry, who is part of the Senior Bowl staff along with several other Saints assistants, interviewed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week for their vacant offensive-coordinator position.

The NFL Network was first to report the news on Richard.