‘I’m fired up that he’s returning’ - Payton talks about Nielsen staying with Saints

New Orleans Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen during an NFL football game against the...
New Orleans Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen during an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in New Orleans.(Tyler Kaufman | AP)
Updated: Jan. 21, 2021 at 10:03 PM CST
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METAIRIE, La. (WAFB) - As the search for LSU’s new defensive coordinator continues, Saints head coach Sean Payton spoke Thursday, Jan. 21, about the man who appeared to be heading to Baton Rouge but then wasn’t.

Saints defensive line coach Ryan Nielsen initially wanted to be reunited with LSU head coach Ed Orgeron, who coached Nielsen at USC and then coached with him at Ole Miss.

But then, there was a snag in Nielsen’s contract with the Saints and Payton didn’t sign off on the move to LSU, preventing Orgeron from getting his guy.

“We’re outstanding; literally, he was just in my office 60 seconds ago; we’re fantastic,” said Payton. “Fired up he’s returning. Every once in a while in this business, you have talented people, and you work with, you work hard, and they have other opportunities. And then every once in a while, you go into recruiting mode. And listen, he’s someone that very soon you’re going to see as a head coach at the NFL level, and he’s extremely talented. And I’m fired up that he’s returning and signed on for three more years. But I think he’s going to be one of those guys, just like we’re seeing with Dan Campbell and soon to see, I’m sure, with Dennis Allen. He’s going to be one of those guys that before long, and it won’t be long, will be a head coach in this league.”


Payton added there is no friction with Nielsen, who was given a new three-year contract and the added title of assistant head coach. Nielsen has been the defensive line coach for the Saints for four seasons.

He played defensive tackle at USC under Orgeron from 1998-2001 and his first coaching job was as a volunteer assistant for Coach O at USC in 2002. Nielsen was the defensive line coach at Ole Miss from 2005-2007 when Orgeron was head coach.

CLICK HERE for the full transcript of Payton’s conference call.

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