Upon the conclusion of the New Orleans Saints' season, a new beginning was put into motion in Detroit.
Saints assistant head coach/tight ends coach Dan Campbell agreed to terms on a six-year deal with the Lions on Wednesday to become the franchise's next coach, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per sources informed. The team later made it official.
"This is an exciting day for our organization as we introduce Dan Campbell as the new head coach of the Detroit Lions," Lions owner and chairman Sheila Ford Hamp said in a statement. "With more than 20 years of experience as both a coach and player in the National Football League, Dan knows the rigors of professional football and what it takes to be successful. He will help promote the culture we want to establish across our organization, while also bringing with him high energy, a respect for the game and an identity with which everyone can align themselves."
Campbell was the favorite for the job, but with the Saints still in the playoffs, was unable to conduct an in-person interview with the Lions, per league rules. Detroit had zeroed in on Campbell, and as the clock ran out on the Saints' season, a new era for the Lions was set to commence.
The Lions haven't made the playoffs since 2016, but have pounced upon a new head coach in Campbell and a new general manager in Brad Holmes who were part of postseason squads.
Campbell emerged as the top choice for the job out of a pool that included interim coach Darrell Bevell, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, former Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, new Jets coach Robert Saleh and new Falcons coach Arthur Smith.
A large and energetic presence, the 44-year-old Campbell has been with the Saints for the last five seasons. His run in New Orleans came after six years with the Miami Dolphins, where Campbell began as an offensive coaching intern and became the tight ends coach prior to earning a 5-7 record as the team's interim head coach in 2015.
Campbell took over for Joe Philbin that season and will now take over for Matt Patricia, who was fired during the 2020 season, which ended with the Lions going 5-11 to finish in last place in the NFC North for a third straight campaign.
A 6-foot-5, 265-pound tight end during a 10-season NFL career from 1999-2008, Campbell played for the Giants and Cowboys before a three-season run with the Lions to end his career.
Now, Campbell is back in Detroit, looking to fire up a long-stagnant franchise.
Campbell was never a part of a winning team in Detroit and his last season was a dubious 0-16 2008 campaign, but he's aiming to turn the Lions into a winner, as he experienced in his time with Sean Payton and the Saints.