Former Saints, Tulane coach Curtis Johnson returns to NFL with Chicago Bears _lowres

 

The New Orleans Saints are adding a familiar face to the coaching staff.

Curtis Johnson is returning to Sean Payton's staff to take the place of former wide receivers coach John Morton, a source said Wednesday.

Morton recently joined the New York Jets to become offensive coordinator.

Johnson served as the Saints' wide receivers coach from 2006-11. He then spent the next four seasons as Tulane's head coach. Last season, he was with the Chicago Bears as wide receivers coach.

Johnson, who was on a one-year deal, left Chicago this week.

The Saints are quickly filling out their staff. The team hired Mike Nolan to serve as linebackers coach and Bradford Banta to serve as special teams coordinator, the team announced. Kevin O'Dea, who was brought on last season, will remain as a special teams assistant.

That leaves an opening at defensive line coach and possibly an assistant linebackers coach. The Saints created several openings on the coaching staff by letting go of defensive line coach Bill Johnson, linebackers coach Joe Vitt, assistant linebackers coach James Willis, special teams coordinator Greg McMahon and special teams assistant Stan Kwan.

Johnson was a member of Payton's original coaching staff in New Orleans. Under his guidance, the team developed several wide receivers, including seventh-round pick Marques Colston and the undrafted Lance Moore. Second-round pick Devery Henderson was also part of those groups.

Johnson was fired by Tulane in November of the 2015 season, finishing his tenure at the school with a 15-34 record. His best season came in 2013 when he led the team to a 7-6 record and earned an invite to the New Orleans Bowl, which Tulane lost, 24-21, to UL-Lafayette.

Banta, a Baton Rouge native, spent the last two seasons as Washington's assistant special teams coach. He was a special teams assistant in Detroit from 2008-2011 and spent the 2012 and 2013 seasons as the Lions' assistant linebackers coach.

A former tight end and long snapper, Banta spent several seasons in the NFL, playing for the Indianapolis Colts (1994-1999), New York Jets (2000), Lions (2001-2003) and Buffalo Bills (2004).

Follow Nick Underhill on Twitter, @nick_underhill.​