The New Orleans Saints were dealt a bit of unfortunate news on Friday as co-defensive coordinator and longtime defensive line coach, Ryan Nielsen, was officially hired as the new defensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons.
Nielsen was one of the most respected coaches in the Saint's organization. Losing him is already not ideal, but losing him to a division rival makes it sting even worse.
Nielsen's departure leaves Kris Richard as the team's only defensive coordinator, although he too has received interviews from other teams. There's a chance the Saints might have to replace both this offseason.
The potential ramifications of Nielsen leaving are significant, especially with a number of key Saints defensive linemen set to hit free agency. Could the Falcons look to poach them?
Here's what's trending in Saints news
Cameron Jordan praises Ryan Nielsen
Saints defensive lineman Cameron Jordan was among the many to congratulate Nielsen on his promotion as the longtime assistant coach is held in high regard around the league. Jordan sent out the following tweet praising Nielsen while taking a shot at the Falcons.
The likes of Marcus Davenport, David Onyemata, Shy Tuttle, Malcolm Roach, and Kentavius Street are all pending free agents this offseason, and it's worth wondering if any will look to join Nielsen in Atlanta.
There's also the possibility of Nielsen looking to bring some of his staff from New Orleans over with him to the Falcons. Evidently, he's well respected by those in the Saints' organization.
Rashid Shaheed a potential breakout candidate
Shaheed was signed by the Saints as an undrafted free agent this year, and he went on to appear in 12 games for the team after being promoted to the active roster midseason.
The former Weber State standout was a core special teamer and saw his role on offense improve as the season went on. Shaheed finished with 50 or more receiving yards in four of the final six games he played this past season.
With a better offense around him, Shaheed could continue his upward trajectory and provide a dynamic element to the Saints' offense in 2023.