It seems Tennessee’s on-the-field offensive woes from recent seasons aren’t a detractor for one of the NFL’s most well-regarded offensive minds.
Sources tell FootballScoop that former Volunteers offensive coordinator Jim Chaney is on the verge of joining Sean Payton’s New Orleans Saints staff.
Update: The Saints have announced Chaney's addition.
Chaney’s expected to become an senior offensive analyst for the Saints, who lost to eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay in the NFC Playoffs and are expected to be transitioning into the post-Drew Brees era at quarterback.
Chaney was Brees’ offensive coordinator at Purdue from 1997-2000.
The two well-regarded coaches, Chaney and Payton, have history together and a long-standing friendship.
Though they have never been on staff together, Payton launched his coaching career as an offensive assistant at San Diego State while Chaney was the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator at Cal State Fullerton in the late-1980s.
The two then coached against one another in the NFL from 2006-08, when Payton had just taken over the Saints and Chaney was on staff with the then-St. Louis Rams.
Chaney had generated consistently strong offensive units in each of his stops as a collegiate offensive coordinator, including a record-breaking 2012 season at Tennessee.
But Chaney’a return to Rocky Top under the since-fired Jeremy Pruitt never met the lofty expectations that accompanied the three-year, nearly $5 million contract Chaney negotiated to leave Georgia for his return to Tennessee in January 2019.
Chaney still will be paid nearly $1.8 million this year from Tennessee on a contract that runs into early 2022.
The Vols were plagued by horrific quarterback play and inconsistent, youthful play along their offensive line. Tennessee failed to score more than 21 points in seven of its final eight games during the SEC-only 2020 season.
Still, Chaney’s track record with both high-octane offenses and successful quarterback play is well-established. He could be of particular value for the Saints, who have Taysom Hill under contract through this season and also could re-sign free agent Jameis Winston.
Payton has made clear in public comments that New Orleans has interest in bringing back Winston.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest news.
Update> In addition to announcing the hire of Chaney, the Saints have announced other moves as well.