There were other job openings for a tight ends coach that initially were on Clancy Barone’s radar, but they fell to the wayside once he saw that the New Orleans Saints needed one.
"When I saw the opening come up, and I had some various opportunities that my agent was trying to get me involved with, when I saw this one come available, I told (my agent), 'I want to focus on the Saints more than these other ones that we're talking to right now,'" Barone said. "With their history of tight end play, with great ownership and also for the fact that I felt very strongly about working for a guy like Dennis (Allen)."
Allen, the Saints' head coach, said one of the characteristics he was looking for during the hiring process of five coaches this offseason was familiarity, a sense of knowing exactly what he was getting.
In Barone, who's entering his 18th NFL season, Allen gets that.
After 17 years coaching in college, Barone got his first NFL job in Atlanta, where he was an assistant offensive line coach in 2004, then tight ends coach in 2005 and 2006. Allen was a Falcons defensive assistant in 2004-05, helping with the defensive line, after spending his first two NFL seasons as Atlanta's defensive quality control coordinator.
"I was working with the offensive line so we were practicing against his position every day," Barone said. "So I remember a lot about him, his office was right around the corner from mine.
"He was, and still is, a very smart football coach, high energy guy, and someone that – even with me as an older guy, and I'd been coaching at that point 17 years in college ball, so that was my 18th year overall in coaching – I was still drawn to him because of his energy and his knowledge of the game and his passion of the game. And I'd always find myself in his company, I just like being around people like that."
The Saints' job was attractive, he said, because of the history of the position. Barone helped Falcons tight end Alge Crumpler become a two-time Pro Bowl player, and noted that New Orleans has had Jeremy Shockey and Jimmy Graham, among others, play the position. Barone coached Graham in Chicago in 2020-21 and has coached four Pro Bowl tight ends – Crumpler, Antonio Gates with the Chargers, Julius Thomas with the Broncos and Kyle Rudolph with the Vikings.
"When you look at the history of that position here, going back to Shockey and Jimmy Graham, who I coached, there's been a number of great tight ends," he said. "So there's a great tradition of having very good tight ends here.
"But also, in today's NFL, ownership is so important. And especially as a coach like myself, to be able to go someplace where you have great ownership, that becomes the difference-maker when it comes to selecting a team where you want to go to further your career as a coach. And so, for many reasons, my wife and I are very thrilled to have this opportunity."
Barone took a break from the coaching profession in 2022 due to family reasons, but said he kept a finger on the pulse of the league.
"I always stayed involved in the league with friends in the league, and always stayed up on the new trends and different players and things like that, so when I had the opportunity to come here, it was a no-brainer for me," he said.