Dennis Allen

Saints’ Michael Thomas Expected To Be Healthy By Training Camp

Michael Thomas is assured to be in New Orleans for at least one more season, but he has work to do to return to full health in time for the 2023 season. Training camp has been named as the target for the oft-injured wideout to reach that point.

During an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show, head coach Dennis Allen confirmed that Thomas will not be a full participant in the Saints’ offseason program (video link). He reiterated, however, the team’s confidence in the 30-year-old’s ability to return to his All-Pro form upon return.

“Right now, he’s still going through some of the rehab process,” Allen said. “He had some hardware removed out of that foot that he had surgery on this past season. He’s doing really well… Our anticipation is that he’ll be limited throughout this offseason. But our anticipation is that when we get to training camp, he’ll be good to go.”

Thomas was limited to three games in 2022 due to the toe injury which, as Allen noted, required surgery. The two-time All-Pro last put together a healthy season in 2019, a year in which he broke the record for receptions in a season (149) and led the league in yards (1,725). New Orleans has remained optimistic in his ability to remain highly productive when healthy, but his future appeared to be headed elsewhere after a January restructure of his contract.

However, the sides agreed to a new one-year deal with a maximum value of $15MM in March. That will give Thomas another opportunity to rebuild his value on an offense now led by quarterback Derek Carr and first-round wideout Chris Olave, who had a successful rookie campaign in 2022. Questions will naturally be raised regarding Thomas’ ability to remain healthy this season, and, if so, to once again be one of the most impactful receivers in the game.

On that point, general manager Mickey Loomis echoed Allen’s confidence that Thomas can post triple-digit catches for what would be a fourth time (Twitter link via ESPN’s Katherine Terrell). He also confirmed that the latter remains on schedule with his recovery, something which will be a key storyline to follow leading up to the season.

Saints TE Foster Moreau Could Participate In OTAs

Foster Moreau‘s return to football took an unexpected and encouraging step when he inked a deal with the Saints. That move suggests the veteran tight end will be able to suit up by the fall, but he could be on the field much sooner than that point.

Moreau – who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma earlier this offseason – could take part in OTAs in New Orleans, per ESPN’s Katherine Terrell. That would represent another surprising development, considering the 26-year-old is still receiving treatment at this time. Head coach Dennis Allen confirmed that Moreau’s prognosis has remained “extremely positive,” opening the door to his quick return to the field.

The latter signed a three-year, $12MM pact to continue playing with quarterback Derek Carr after the pair spent time together with the Raiders. Moreau received $8MM guaranteed, illustrating the Saints’ confidence that he can recover in full and play a large part in the team’s passing attack. Moreau will compete with Juwan Johnson for snaps and targets in what is now a Carr-led offense.

The Saints created a vacancy in the TE room by trading Adam Trautman to the Broncos. After that deal was complete, New Orleans – one of the teams which hosted Moreau on a free agent visit – circled back to the latter to work out a deal knowing his absence from football was expected to be temporary.

“I think we knew that he was going to be cleared to participate and we felt like we were a destination that he was certainly interested in,” Allen said, via Terrell. “And so soon as the draft was over we had some communication. I will say that we knew where we were looking and it was just a matter of trying to get something done.”

New Orleans will begin OTAs on May 23, which will be the first point at which Moreau could practice with his new team. To no surprise, Allen insisted that the team will remain cautious in their approach with the LSU product, but his latest remarks point further to a quick recovery on Moreau’s part not long after what could have been a career-ending diagnosis.

Saints “Ready” To Sign Derek Carr

Derek Carr has made it clear that he intends for his free agent process to be a lengthy one. For at least one of the teams he has met with, though, a quick ending would be preferred.

During an appearance on the Official Jets Podcast, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler noted that the Saints are “ready” to sign Carr. He added that they “want to get something done” with Carr, illustrating how well the two meetings which have taken place between the parties have gone. New Orleans has long been connected to the 31-year-old, who is the top quarterback on the market at this time.

When a trade was thought to be a possibility, the Saints were reportedly in agreement with the Raiders on compensation after Carr’s first visit to New Orleans. The four-time Pro Bowler forced Vegas to release him, though, not as a sign of disinterest in the Saints but rather a means of allowing himself to hit the open market and leverage the best possible contract for the next chapter of his career. That move opened up the number of suitors interested in at least a short-term QB upgrade.

New Orleans faced a difficult cap situation last offseason, but general manager Mickey Loomis carved out enough space to make the team a serious contender for Deshaun Watson. After the latter was ultimately traded to the Browns, though, the Saints elected to use a pairing of Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton under center in 2023. Their collective performance left plenty to be desired, and it would come as no surprise if Carr or a similar veteran were brought in to solidify the position.

New Orleans has begun this year’s cap gymnastics, but they still have a long way to go. The Saints are currently more than $30MM over the cap, and not much is certain for them under center. Dalton is a pending free agent, and one year remains on Winston’s contract. Releasing the former first overall pick would yield $4.4MM in savings, a relatively modest amount but one which would nevertheless move the team closer to being able to afford the $35MM AAV Carr is believed to be seeking.

The Saints and Jets met with Carr not only last month, but during this week’s combine as well. Loomis and head coach Dennis Allen spoke positively about their sit-down, and their support of the potential of a deal taking shape. The Panthers, another team which could be a significant player in this year’s quarterback market, is also set to meet with Carr, though. Not surprisingly, Fowler adds that the former second-rounder is likely to remain patient in the name of setting up a bidding war for his services, especially if Aaron Rodgers and/or Lamar Jackson don’t end up becoming available.

Rodgers has routinely been connected to the Jets this offseason, and mutual interest exists between the AFC East outfit and Carr. They figure to face stiff competition from New Orleans in the Carr sweepstakes, though, as the QB landscape slowly starts to take shape.

Saints To Retain HC Dennis Allen

Rumors about a quick Sean Payton New Orleans return emerged late last month, but Mickey Loomis squashed that prospect Friday. The longtime Saints GM said Dennis Allen is not going anywhere.

Allen will return for a second season as the Saints’ HC. While it was trending in this direction, despite the team’s first 10-loss season since 2005, Loomis confirming it adds finality to what had become a murky situation. Allen has been with the Saints for the past eight seasons, returning to New Orleans after a failed stint as a head coach in Oakland.

Although Payton’s potential interest in returning generated understandable attention, ownership is behind Allen — for at least as second season. The Saints have granted permission for Payton to speak with other teams — a Broncos interview is on tap for Tuesday — but Loomis said (via Nick Underhill of, on Twitter) compensation has not been finalized, citing different levels each of the interested teams are able to send.

Payton, who coached the Saints for 16 seasons, is believed to want to bring personnel staffers with him wherever he goes. As far as coaches, Loomis said (via Underhill) the Saints would probably block contracted staffers from leaving — so long as it is a lateral move, as rises to coordinator positions are unblockable. No GM interview requests have come in for Saints execs yet this offseason, and no New Orleans coordinators are on this year’s coaching carousel.

A report indicated the Saints and Broncos had agreed on a Payton compensation package — without Payton having agreed to terms to become Denver’s HC yet — that includes a first-round pick and then some. It is unclear if that will be the final price. No head coach has been traded since the Chiefs sent the Jets a fourth-round pick for Herm Edwards in 2006. It took just a second-rounder for the Seahawks to acquire Mike Holmgren‘s rights in 1999, though the Jon Gruden (2002), Bill Belichick (2000) and Bill Parcells (1997) trades all involved first-round picks.

As for Allen, he did have the Saints back in relative contention — since the NFC South was historically bad this season — late in the season. The Saints won three of their final four games to finish 7-10. Were it not for a late-game collapse in Tampa, New Orleans would have entered Week 18 with a chance to win the division. The longtime Saints DC-turned-Payton replacement oversaw fifth- and ninth-place defensive rankings (yardage, points), but New Orleans’ offense ranked 22nd in scoring its first post-Payton slate.

Loomis said the team has no plans to “blow things up,” so an Allen-overseen rebuild is not in the cards. The Saints are again in need at quarterback, with Andy Dalton‘s contract expiring and Jameis Winston having been benched. The team has not begun any negotiations with Dalton about a return yet, per Underhill (Twitter links). Dalton, 35, signed a one-year, $3MM deal but ended up usurping Winston early in the season. Dalton started 14 games for the Saints — his most starts since the 2017 season. New Orleans figures to be in the mix for a QB upgrade this offseason.

Dennis Allen Likely To Return As Saints HC In 2023

While the prospect of Sean Payton wanting to return to New Orleans would put team brass in a difficult spot, it is not completely known if that is the case. And the Saints’ current coach has backers in high places.

Dennis Allen is likely to stay on for a second season as Saints HC, according to’s Jeff Duncan, who adds ownership and management are still behind Payton’s longtime DC. Allen replaced Payton in February, and while the Saints have taken a step back, Duncan does not anticipate the team making its coach and one-and-done.

A report this week labeled a potential Payton-Saints reunion as the “worst-kept secret,” but’s Jeremy Fowler noted earlier this month Allen was likely to receive a second season. The cost component in firing a coach after one season is part of the equation as well, per Duncan.

The NFL has certainly condensed its timetables for coaches in this era, but the Saints have not made any coach even a two-and-done since the 1970s. Under late owner Tom Benson, Mike Ditka and Jim Haslett received at least three seasons. The latter coached for six years, despite the Saints qualifying for just one playoff field — in Haslett’s first season — during that time. Payton changed the game for the Saints and stayed 16 seasons, leaving surprisingly in late January. The current FOX analyst has been researching potential opportunities and may well come back to New Orleans at some point, but a reunion appears to be on hold.

The Saints hold Payton’s rights and would be in position to collect a nice compensation package for the Super Bowl-winning HC, in the event he ends up coaching another team. Payton has been connected to working with ex-Saints assistant Vic Fangio somewhere. That partnership coming to pass in New Orleans could leave Allen, who served under Payton during two Saints stints before succeeding him as HC, out in the cold. But Payton will have other options. Though, the top two teams he has been linked to — the Cowboys and Chargers — do not look likely to fire their current coaches. Both teams have clinched playoff spots.

The Saints did finish under .500 five times under Payton, so Allen’s debut (6-9 presently) is not completely out of step. But New Orleans never lost 10 games with Payton. Drew Brees being under center for 15 of those seasons did help protect against that outcome, however. Allen has not been as fortunate, going from Jameis Winston to Andy Dalton this season. The Saints have improved from 28th to 18th in total offense from last season, which featured a worse QB situation. And they rank ninth in total defense, with their win over the Browns keeping them technically alive for postseason play. FiveThirtyEight gives New Orleans only a 3% chance to make the playoffs, though Duncan adds management is happy with the fight the team has shown down the stretch.

While the Cardinals have also been loosely linked to Payton, Duncan notes this pairing should not be expected. The team still has a decision to make on Kliff Kingsbury, who joined Steve Keim in signing an extension this offseason. But with the Cards falling to 4-11 in Kingsbury’s fourth season, the longtime college coach is squarely on the hot seat. With Payton likely to have options upon returning, taking over a team coming off a dysfunctional 2022 would be a tougher sell compared to other opportunities. Kyler Murray‘s ACL tear certainly does not help matters.

Sean Payton-Saints Reunion On Table; Broncos, Panthers Not In Play?

With a third coach firing going down this week, Sean Payton smoke keeps emerging. The Super Bowl-winning coach has given a few interviews indicating a desire to coach again, and it could happen as soon as 2023.

Payton will be coveted by every team with a coaching vacancy, but an unexpected reunion is generating buzz. The Saints potentially bringing back Payton is “the worst-kept secret” in NFL circles, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. Payton is indeed open to a New Orleans return, according to Jeff Duncan of

The Saints were forced to conduct a coaching search weeks after other HC-seeking teams went through theirs, after Payton stepped down from his 16-year gig. They ended up promoting Dennis Allen, giving the ex-Raiders HC a second chance. Although the Saints are still in contention for the NFC South title, they are 6-9 and could hit double-digit losses for the first time since 2005 — the franchise’s final pre-Payton year. GM Mickey Loomis and owner Gayle Benson are strong supporters of Allen, per Duncan, who notes Payton’s longtime DC is well-liked throughout the organization.

It would make for a historically unusual move for the Saints and Payton to reunite after one year apart, but Loomis remains close with his former coworker. And the Saints hold Payton’s rights through 2024. It would be interesting to see if another team was willing to make a substantial trade offer for Payton, Florio adds that if Payton coaches anywhere next season, it will be back in New Orleans. A source that spoke with Duncan offers the same prediction.

Payton has already begun work on assembling a staff and has studied rosters and cap situations around the league, per Duncan, so it should not be assumed the Saints — who have featured a rather notable roster issue since Drew Brees‘ retirement — have a runaway lead here. But them being back in the mix sets the table for what would be one of the most fascinating transactions in modern coaching history.

Payton, 58, has been connected to a few teams, but avenues toward the positions that cropped up this offseason are closing. The Cowboys and Chargers are heading to the playoffs, and while neither Mike McCarthy nor Brandon Staley are locks to return, both are likely to stay on in their present roles. The Dolphins, as you may have heard, caused quite a stir by showing interest in Payton — to the point they were docked first- and third-round picks for tampering with he and Tom Brady. Although Mike McDaniel‘s team is fading, it would surprise if Stephen Ross made him a one-and-done given the progress Tua Tagovailoa has made this season.

The Broncos and Panthers are both believed to be interested in Payton, but Florio adds neither team appeals to the current FOX analyst. (The Saints trading Payton to the Panthers is a near-impossible scenario to envision as well.) Payton returning to New Orleans would seemingly wall off a quest to become the first head coach to win Super Bowls with two different teams. Several HCs — Don Shula, Dick Vermeil, Bill Parcells, Dan Reeves, Mike Holmgren, John Fox and Andy Reid — have coached two franchises to Super Bowls, but none has negotiated the hurdle of winning it with both.

Returning to New Orleans would also mean a renewed search to find a long-term Brees successor, and the recent report of Payton eyeing Vic Fangio to be his defensive coordinator upon returning further complicates Allen’s status. Allen enjoyed two tours under Payton with the Saints, being the team’s secondary coach from 2008-10 and its DC from 2015-21. Another report indicated Allen was likely safe from being a one-and-done, but Payton being back in play could certainly change that.

At the end of an unremarkable season, it appears the Saints will be a central figure in the 2023 offseason. They may have the chance to rehire the best head coach in team history or trade him for a package that could include a first-round pick.

Buccaneers’ Todd Bowles, Saints’ Dennis Allen Likely To Return In 2023

Most of the one-and-done coaching noise has emerged from the AFC, with Nathaniel Hackett and Lovie Smith potentially up against it to keep their jobs. Prior to last season (Urban Meyer, David Culley), no NFL campaign had seen two one-and-done head coaches since 2007. While Hackett and Smith could make it back-to-back years with multiple NFL one-and-dones, the NFC’s set of first-year HCs appears safe.

Both the Buccaneers and Saints have not lived up to expectations, particularly in Tampa Bay’s case. But neither Todd Bowles nor Dennis Allen are believed to be on unsteady ground regarding a return in 2023, Dan Graziano of notes.

The circumstances behind Bowles’ promotion were strange at the time, with Bruce Arians well into his offseason routine. Days after Tom Brady agreed to unretire, Arians stepped away. Many connected the dots here and pointed to Brady effectively forcing Arians out, but the Super Bowl-winning HC indicated otherwise. Arians said Brady’s return allowed him to hand the reins to Bowles rather than give his longtime assistant a less stable team. The Bucs have been anything but stable this year, however.

Tampa Bay is 6-7 but needed final-minute drives to win its past two home games. The Bucs have slipped from second in scoring offense to 28th in their initial post-Arians season, and Brady’s QBR figure (51.0) would be the lowest of his career (QBR made its debut in Brady’s seventh season, however). Rumors of friction between Brady and OC Byron Leftwich have surfaced, and the likelihood of the all-time great coming back for a fourth Bucs season appears low right now.

Bowles, 59, failed in his first head-coaching opportunity, going 24-40 with the Jets. He rebuilt his stock during his three-year stay as the Bucs’ DC, and this year’s Bucs defense remains in the top 10 in both points and yards allowed. But his team has failed to gain solid playoff footing despite playing in one of the worst divisions in NFL history. Bowles’ second year — one that could feature major quarterback uncertainty — figures to bring more scrutiny.

The Saints did not make the playoffs last season, going 9-8, but they have also taken a step back under their retread coach. Like Bowles, Allen bombed in his first HC go-round. He went just 8-28 with the Raiders, who fired him during a winless start in 2014. Allen, 50, latched on with the Saints and helped their defense turn around in the late 2010s, leading to four consecutive Saints playoff appearances. Injuries have again limited the Saints this season, and while New Orleans’ statistical decline is not as stark as Tampa Bay’s, the team’s 4-9 record is its worst mark through 13 games since 2005 — its final pre-Sean Payton season.

Staff changes could be in play for both teams, Graziano adds, noting that Brady — should he agree to come back — would stand to have input on how Bowles constructs his staff. Brady being a free agent complicates that process. As for the Saints, they kept longtime OC Pete Carmichael on — after he was initially linked to a lower-profile role in the wake of Payton’s exit — while this is Leftwich’s fourth season calling plays for the Bucs. It will be interesting to gauge the fallout from these two disappointing seasons, even if Allen and Bowles are ticketed to return.

Latest On Saints’ QB Situation

The Saints had recently entertained the notion of making a quarterback change for the second time this season, but that move will be delayed for at least one more week. Head coach Dennis Allen confirmed on Wednesday that Andy Dalton will remain the team’s starter in Week 11.

The veteran has been in place as New Orleans’ No. 1 since Week 4, when he stepped in for an injured Jameis Winston. The latter entered the season fully recovered from his 2021 ACL tear and with a two-year deal in hand to continue where he left off last season. Back and ankle injuries have limited his availability during this campaign, however, and he struggled during his three starts.

Dalton remained atop the depth chart even after Winston was healthy enough to dress, given the team’s relative offensive success. Last month, Allen indicated that Dalton could take on the starter’s role on a full-time basis depending on his performance and Winston’s availability to recover. The 35-year-old’s first five starts saw the Saints put up no fewer than 24 points in each contest, quelling any potential controversy at the position.

In the two games which have followed, New Orleans has scored 23 total points in losses to the Ravens and Steelers. Allen endorsed Dalton in the former case, stating that he gave no consideration to a midgame QB change against Baltimore. Days ago, though, the door seemed to open to a Winston return as the Saints remain in search of a catalyst for their banged-up offense.

“[W]e haven’t been doing as well the last couple weeks,” Allen said earlier this week, via ESPN’s Katherine Terrell, on the subject of a potential quarterback swap. “So, I think we’ve gotta evaluate that. I think that’s something that we need to look at.”

Allen said today (via Terrell, on Twitter) that Winston is still not 100% healthy. More worryingly, he added that it remains unclear if the former No. 1 pick will reach full health any time soon. For at least one more game, then, it will be Dalton under center as New Orleans hosts the Rams on Sunday as a pair of struggling teams aim for their fourth win of the season.

Andy Dalton To Remain Saints’ Starting QB

Last night saw the Saints deliver an underwhelming performance on offense during their loss to the Ravens. It invited questions about the team’s quarterback plans moving forward, but no changes are imminent on that front.

Veteran Andy Dalton made his sixth consecutive start in the 27-13 loss, one in which the Saints converted three of 11 third downs and were out-possessed by more than 15 minutes. Overall, the 35-year-old threw for 210 yards, one touchdown and one interception. At no time during the contest, though, did head coach Dennis Allen consider making a switch.

“There was a lot that wasn’t good offensively tonight,” Allen said, via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk“There was a lot of dirty hands in that.” Taking a wider view of the Saints’ offense, he added, “whatever it’s been, five weeks, I think our offense has been pretty good… I’m looking at this as we had a bad day at the office offensively tonight” (Twitter link via ESPN’s Katherine Terrell).

Dalton took over for an injured Jameis Winston beginning in Week 4. While the latter worked his way toward recovery from back and ankle ailments, Dalton had guided the team to two victories and three one-score losses heading into last night. The longtime Bengals starter, who has since become a journeyman backup, was said to have a relatively long leash last month based on his play.

Things took a turn on Monday, Dalton’s 20th loss in 26 career primetime appearances. Overall, though, the Saints have been more productive with him at the helm compared to Winston, who threw five interceptions and took 11 sacks in his three starts to begin the campaign. He was signed to a two-year deal this offseason to return to the starting role he had prior to last year’s ACL tear, but Allen’s remarks confirm that the situation is much different in 2022.

New Orleans’ QB plans are being made, of course, within the context of an offense which has been shorthanded throughout the campaign. The team’s much-improved receiving corps has not been at full strength, a situation which is likely to remain the case with Michael Thomas not expected to play again this year. Dalton – or, Winston, if another switch is made down the road – will remain in less-than-ideal circumstances for the duration, as the 3-6 team looks to regroup in the wide-open NFC South.

South Notes: Saints, Darnold, Colts

Links between Patrick Mahomes and other teams have emerged in the past. The Cardinals were preparing to draft the eventual Chiefs megastar five years ago. Sean Payton also confirmed the rumored story of his old team’s plans with the then-Texas Tech prospect. During his latest FOX appearance (h/t’s Peter Schrager), the former Saints coach said he was prepared to draft Mahomes at No. 11 in 2017. While Payton confirmed he discussed the selection with Drew Brees and informed the future Hall of Famer a Mahomes pick would not impact his starter status, the Saints also viewed Marshon Lattimore as a top-four player in the 2017 class.

Payton said in 2020 the team did not have a clear choice between Lattimore and Mahomes, though then-Kansas City GM John Dorsey made New Orleans’ decision easier with the trade-up for the quarterback. Payton said this week Mahomes was “the best quarterback I’d ever seen on college tape.” The Saints had worked out Mahomes in Lubbock that year. Hindsight would suggest the Saints needed to be ready to climb into the top 10 for such a talent, but Mahomes was not viewed as a surefire top-10 pick that year. GM Mickey Loomis also said Lattimore falling impacted the team’s decision not to trade up for Mahomes. Both Mahomes and Lattimore are now signed to long-term contracts, though the former’s prime should be expected to last longer.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • The NFL’s longest-tenured general manager, excluding those with owner-GM or coach-GM roles, Loomis has seen fellow Saints cornerstones Payton and Brees depart in the past two offseasons. But the 21st-year Saints front office boss is not planning to join them in leaving anytime soon, via Jeff Duncan of When the acclaimed salary cap guru does walk away, Jeff Ireland looms as a logical successor. The former Dolphins GM is well-regarded by Loomis and others in the organization, Duncan adds. Ireland, 52, was the Dolphins’ GM from 2008-13. Currently the Saints’ assistant GM, Ireland has been with the team since 2015. The Bears interviewed Ireland for their GM post this offseason, while the Lions and Panthers met with him in 2021. It will be interesting to see if Ireland sticks around to potentially succeed Loomis or land a GM gig elsewhere before the New Orleans GM exits.
  • After a strained 2021 between Michael Thomas and the Saints, first-year HC Dennis Allen made connecting with the wide receiver one of his first acts upon being promoted. Allen flew to Los Angeles to have dinner with Thomas early this offseason, Mike Triplett of notes. Despite Thomas’ injury-plagued 2020s and the Saints’ frustration with their top wideout regarding his 2021 surgery timetable — a process that led to the All-Pro missing a full season — the team vowed not to trade him early this offseason. Thomas, 29, has returned healthy and caught two touchdown passes in the Saints’ Week 1 comeback win over the Falcons.
  • Potentially the Colts‘ left tackle of the future, Bernhard Raimann backed up Matt Pryor in Week 1. But the Colts used the third-round rookie in a rotation with Pryor. After Raimann played 12 of the five-period game’s 90 left tackle snaps, Frank Reich said (via the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson) he plans to continue rotating his backup in going forward. Left tackle represented the only position at which the Colts deployed a rotation, beginning a path to Raimann seizing this job full-time. The Colts re-signed Pryor on a one-year, $5.55MM deal this offseason, and Erickson offers the 2021 Colts swingman — who has never been a full-time left tackle — could be an option at right guard, should Raimann take over the blindside.
  • Sam Darnold is making progress toward a return. The Panthers backup has shed his walking boot, per The Athletic’s Joe Person (on Twitter). On IR due to a high ankle sprain, Darnold will miss at least the season’s first four weeks.