Zach Stuart

NFC South Notes: Saints, Panthers, Edmonds

The Saints made a key tweak to their front office Tuesday, announcing Khai Harley will move into the assistant GM role. Harley has been with the Saints for 16 years, most recently serving as the team’s VP of football administration. Mickey Loomis has credited Harley as being one of the chief architects behind the franchise’s aggressive strategy with regards to the salary cap. Omar Khan used this background to become the Steelers’ GM, and Harley rising to this post may put him on the radar for interviews.

New Orleans also Scott Kuhn as director of football administration, Zach Stuart as director of analytics and Rishi Desai as a scouting assistant. Gaining extensive experience on the analytics front, Kuhn spent 16 years with the Vikings. Stuart spent the past three years as the Jets’ analytics coordinator. Additionally, former safety Matt Giordano is now an assistant on Dennis Allen‘s staff. Giordano, 40, spent one season with the Saints (2010); the 30-game starter also played for the Colts, Packers, Raiders and Rams from 2005-13. Giordano had spent six seasons as head coach of Buchanan High School in his native Fresno, concluding that tenure after the 2021 season.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Although Payton Turner carries a first-round pedigree, he is unlikely to beat out Carl Granderson for the starting role Marcus Davenport vacated this offseason. The Saints are more likely to turn to Granderson — a former UDFA — than Turner opposite Cameron Jordan, Jeff Duncan of notes. Granderson, 26, has stood out in training camp and has two five-plus-sack seasons over the past three years. Turner entered camp after two iffy years, and while the Saints are likely to give the 2021 first-rounder another shot, a rotational role looks to be how this will play out.
  • Jordan’s two-year, $27.5MM Saints extension is fully guaranteed, and it will also include sack incentives. Jordan can pick up an extra $500K with a 10-sack season this year, Nick Underhill of tweets. The 34-year-old defensive end can add $250K by reaching $250K in 2024 and 2025. Sitting 23rd on the official sack list (115.5), Jordan has six double-digit sack slates on his resume — including a 12.5-sack showing in 2021.
  • Frank Reich is in place as the Panthers‘ play-caller to start his HC tenure, but OC Thomas Brown continues to loom as a future option for the post. The first-year Carolina HC said the long-term goal remains to make Brown the play-caller, Darin Gantt of tweets. This is Brown’s first OC post, but he has already booked HC interviews and received interest from other teams regarding their respective OC jobs. A former Rams assistant, Brown earning play-calling responsibilities this year would enhance his case for a top coaching job.
  • Deion Jonesone-year Panthers agreement is worth $1.17MM, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson tweets. That doubles as the veteran minimum, though Wilson adds the former Falcons mainstay will receive a $75K bonus for making the Panthers’ 53-man roster. The Falcons gave Jones a four-year, $57MM extension before the 2019 season, but the team cut bait on that deal before the 2022 trade deadline. The Browns also removed a year from Jones’ contract, and scant interest came his way this offseason. This will be a key year for the 29-year-old linebacker.
  • The Panthers included four void years in Justin Houston‘s contract, dropping his cap hit to $2.13MM, Field Yates of tweets. Houston signed a fully guaranteed one-year, $6MM deal earlier this month. The contract will include sack incentives, with Wilson adding Houston will receive $500K by reaching 11 sacks and could earn another $500K by hitting 12 (Twitter link). These are classified as not likely to be earned; Houston has one 11-sack season since 2015.
  • As the Buccaneers prepare to use Rachaad White as their starting running back, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times notes offseason addition Chase Edmonds is locked into the third-down role. Edmonds, who received just $153K guaranteed on a one-year Bucs deal, operated as a solid pass catcher for the Cardinals but is coming off a down year. The Dolphins included him as salary filler in the Bradley Chubb trade, and the Broncos made him a cap casualty in March.

NFL Staff Updates: Cowboys, Falcons, Ravens, Lions, Chiefs, 49ers, Saints, Caminiti

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy has made analytics a focus since joining the staff three years ago. That trend has continued into 2023 as Dallas made three hires this week, all of them in the analytics department. The Cowboys even took a page out of another sport’s book, as baseball has taken the lead in analytics over the past several years.

Bryant Davis will join the team as a strategic football analyst, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. For the last four years, Davis has been a research and development analyst for the Tampa Bay Rays of the MLB. Even in a sport that’s already more analytical than football, the Rays are one of the more advanced teams in their use of analytics.

Joining Davis as a strategic football analyst, according to Jori Epstein of Yahoo Sports, is William Britt, a former Steelers staffer. Britt spent the past two seasons as a data analyst in Pittsburgh. Along with Davis and Sarah Mallepalle, this is the third person the Cowboys have hired to that role this offseason.

Finally, Dallas has convinced Max Lyons to return to the NFL in the role of football data engineer, according to Marcus Mosher of Pro Football Focus. Lyons has been out of the league for about ten years, founding and maintaining the website Gridiron Rank over that period. After working with the Eagles and Jaguars all the way back in 2012, he finally makes his return to the league.

Here are some other staff updates from around the NFL:

  • After joining the Falcons as a scouting assistant a year ago, Hakeem Smith has been promoted to assistant pro scout, according to Neil Stratton of Before coming to the NFL, Smith had spent three years working in the Pittsburgh Panthers recruiting department. Another scouting assistant hired last summer out of the college ranks, James McClintock has been promoted to a BLESTO scout for Atlanta, according to Stratton. McClintock’s time in the collegiate ranks was spent at Auburn, North Carolina, and Liberty.
  • The Ravens are also reportedly hiring out of the college arena. According to Matt Zenitz of On3 Sports, Baltimore is expected to hire Adam Neuman as chief of staff and special advisor to the president. Not to be confused with Adam Neumann, the founder of WeWork, Neuman has served the last four years as chief of staff for strategy and operations for college football’s Big Ten conference.
  • There’s been a promotion in the Lions‘ analytics department, according to Seth Walder of ESPN. After joining the team in 2020 as an analytics assistant, Caio Brighenti will now be in the role of football information manager. Brighenti has served as football information analyst for Detroit since March 2021.
  • Chiefs‘ staffer Anthony McGee has finally climbed the ranks to become a pro scout, according to Stratton. After interning for the team in different roles from 2018 to 2021, McGee was hired in the personnel department as a player personnel assistant. Two years later, he’ll get his chance at a scouting role.
  • A personnel staffer who got his chance as a pro scout last year, J.P. Crowley Hanlon of the 49ers has been promoted to West Coast area scout, according to Stratton. Crowley Hanlon joined San Francisco after gaining some experience with the Eagles and a sports agency.
  • The Saints poached an analytics staffer from the Jets this week, according to Walder. After serving in New York as football analytics coordinator since 2020, Zach Stuart will head south to New Orleans as director of analytics.
  • Lastly, the Patriots will lose a scout this summer, according to Stratton. Chris Caminiti will be departing for a role to head the Disruptive Sports firm’s coaching representation division. Caminiti has been an area scout for New England since 2021 after serving in operations and coaching roles previously with the Browns, Chiefs, and Chargers.