January 31, 2017

METAIRIE, La. (AP) Saints coach Sean Payton has hired former San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Nolan as New Orleans' new linebackers coach and former NFL long snapper Bradford Banta as special teams coordinator.

The moves, announced Tuesday, come in the wake of Payton's decision earlier in January to let go of five assistants, including linebackers coach Joe Vitt and special teams coordinator Greg McMahon.

Nolan, the son of former Saints coach Dick Nolan, was San Francisco's head coach from 2005 to 2008, and has spent 17 seasons as a defensive coordinator, most recently with Atlanta from 2012 to 2014. He also has served as a coordinator with Baltimore, Denver, Miami, the New York Giants and Jets, and Washington.

Nolan last coached during the 2015 season, when he also oversaw San Diego's linebacker corps. He rejoins the NFL coaching ranks after spending the 2016 season as an NFL radio analyst.

Banta, a Louisiana native, spent the past three seasons as a Redskins special teams assistant. His NFL playing career spanned from 1994 to 2004, with stints at Indianapolis, which drafted him, as well as the New York Jets, Detroit and Buffalo.

Banta has nine years of NFL coaching experience in all, having spent six seasons with the Lions in various positions, including as a special teams assistant for four years.

The Saints still have several staff vacancies to fill, including defensive line coach following a decision not to retain Bill Johnson at that spot. New Orleans also lost receivers coach John Morton, who left to take over as the Jets' offensive coordinator.

With Morton's departure, the Saints have an opportunity to bring back receivers coach Curtis Johnson, who is also from New Orleans and this week left his assistant coaching position with the Chicago Bears. Johnson spent six seasons with the Saints from 2006 to 2011, leaving on good terms in 2012 to take over as head coach at Tulane. Johnson returned to the NFL after being fired by the Green Wave following the 2015 season.

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