LSU coach Ed Orgeron hired his top candidates for his offensive coordinator and passing game coordinator positions on Tuesday, and, according to term sheets obtained by The Advocate, their contracts are now known.
Offensive coordinator Jake Peetz agreed to a two-year deal that pays him $1.2 million in the first season, $1.3 million in 2022 and gives him a one-time payment of $150,000.
Passing game coordinator DJ Mangas agreed to a two-year deal that pays him $400,000 per year. Both of Peetz and Mangas' postseason incentive packages max out at $75,000 per year.
Both deals are set to end March 31, 2023, and the term sheets still must be approved by the LSU Board of Supervisors, which next meet Jan. 15.
Once approved, Peetz will be LSU's highest-paid offensive coordinator since Matt Canada signed a three-year, $1.5 million per year deal in 2017 — a contract the university later had to settle when the football program and Canada parted ways after one season.
Peetz's contract is tied for 16th among NCAA assistant coaches, according to contract data compiled by USA Today during the 2020 season. The contract is in the same range as Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson ($1.2 million per year) and Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken ($1.1 million).
The 37-year-old Peetz was a reputable quarterback coach with the Carolina Panthers, an experienced coach who had spent seven seasons as an assistant in the NFL, four in the NCAA, most of which were spent working with quarterbacks.
Since Canada, LSU was paying its top offensive staffers more in the middle of the market.
Former offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger, who retired from on-field coaching to become an analyst last month, was paid $800,000 a year for two seasons before receiving a raise to $1 million in 2020.
Still, combined with former passing game coordinator Scott Linehan's $800,000 per year contract, LSU was paying its top two offensive staffers about a combined $1.8 million for the 2020 season.
Linehan, with whom LSU parted ways with after one season, is still owed the full remainder of his contract, a buyout that is about $1 million. LSU can still gain some relief from the liquidated damages if Linehan is hired as a coach somewhere else.
Together, the two-coach package deal of Peetz and Mangas will be about an 11% decrease from Ensminger-Linehan for the 2021 season.
The 31-year-old Mangas is receiving an offer comparable to what former passing game coordinators Joe Brady ($410,000 per year) and Jerry Sullivan ($460,000) were paid during their one-year tenures.
Mangas' coaching path is quite similar to Brady's, who just finished his first season as Carolina's offensive coordinator and is the connecting piece between LSU and its new coaches.
Brady was a self-described unknown offensive assistant with the Saints when LSU hired him before the 2019 season, a young coach with an exceptional grasp on modern offensive schemes who had worked his way onto William & Mary's coaching staff after playing wide receiver for the Tribe from 2009-2012.
Mangas was Brady's teammate and fellow coach at William & Mary, and, when Brady was hired at LSU, Mangas joined him as an offensive analyst on LSU's coaching staff.
When Brady left LSU for the NFL, he hired Mangas as an offensive assistant in Carolina, much like the staff position Brady held in New Orleans.
It's Mangas and Peetz's connection to Brady that made them Orgeron's top targets for his offensive staff positions.
Orgeron told WNXX-FM's "Off the Bench" on Tuesday that Derek Ponamsky, LSU's special assistant to Orgeron, has been in contact with Brady during the search, hoping to find candidates who can replicate the schemes Brady and former offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger ran when the Tigers won the program's fourth national championship.
"Joe, who can run your offense?" Orgeron said Ponamsky asked Brady. "And he recommended me two guys, and they're here with me today."
Mangas is certainly familiar with the same offensive philosophies, and, in 2017 and 2018, he was Division I football's second-youngest offensive coordinator while at William & Mary.
The close ties between Brady and LSU's two new coaches, plus language within the term sheets, also spell out a possibility that Peetz and Mangas might rejoin Brady in the NFL.
Brady has already interviewed for head coaching positions with the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons, and, if hired, he'd be looking to build his own coaching staff.
Both of Peetz and Mangas' term sheets have a clause that they may terminate their contracts with LSU without penalty if they accept any position in the NFL.
It's a standard clause found in most collegiate contracts, intended not to deter the trajectory of coaches who have the opportunity to move on to the next level.
It's also what permitted Brady to smoothly leave LSU at the end of the 2019 season. He'd signed a term sheet on Dec. 19, 2019, that was going to pay him an average of $1.65 million per year, but also allowed him to leave for the NFL without penalty.
As things stand, Orgeron has his top offensive choices, who will begin re-tooling a Tigers offense that saw both success and inconsistency in a disappointing 5-5 season last year.
"I'm beyond excited for the opportunity to be back in Baton Rouge and coaching for LSU and Coach Orgeron," Mangas said in a statement Tuesday. "I was fortunate enough to be a part of the 2019 team and see exactly what this offense and these players are capable of. It fires me up to see the potential we have for the 2021 offense."