After 13 years in the college game, Todd Grantham will come back to the NFL. The veteran college defensive coordinator will take a position on Dennis Allen‘s Saints staff, Chris Low of ESPN.com tweets.
Grantham spent the 2022 season at Alabama and interviewed for their DC job, but he will join Bill O’Brien in moving from the Crimson Tide’s staff to the pros during this year’s hiring period. The Saints have moved on from both of their co-DCs from last season — Ryan Nielsen, Kris Richard — but Grantham replacing them would be a slight upset.
[RELATED: Falcons Hire Nielsen As DC]
The Saints are believed to have complied with the Rooney Rule for coordinators, interviewing former Browns and Broncos DC Joe Woods on Friday, but Grantham has not been an NFL DC since he served as such on Romeo Crennel‘s Cleveland staff from 2005-07. Grantham last worked in the pros in 2009, finishing out a two-year stay under Wade Phillips as Dallas’ defensive line coach. The New Orleans position will be a defensive assistant role, Low adds.
Grantham, 56, does have considerable experience as a college DC. He was in that role for Florida, Mississippi State, Louisville and Georgia from 2010-21. He worked as an analyst on Nick Saban’s staff last year. Grantham coached exclusively in the NFL from 1999-2009, working mostly as a D-line coach. Allen could be keen on moving him into that role; Nielsen had coached Saints D-linemen for the past six years.
The Saints also tried to hire Grantham in 2013, Mike Triplett of NewOrleans.football notes (via Twitter), considering him for their DC role — one that ended up going to Rob Ryan. Grantham also removed his name from consideration for the Bengals’ DC post in 2019; Cincinnati hired Lou Anarumo.
The Gators ranked in the top 20 in scoring defense in each of Grantham’s first two seasons but dropped off over his final two campaigns. Although Florida’s defense produced the third-most sacks (158) in Division I-FBS during Grantham’s Gainesville run, Dan Mullen fired Grantham toward the end of the 2021 season. Grantham also oversaw a top-25 defensive performance at Louisville in his first season at the ACC program and has been in coaching since 1990.