Ben Volin of the Boston Globe offers an interesting theory as to why the Patriots made an eleventh hour push to retain offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, a theory that has been proffered by two separate league sources. Volin says team brass was taken aback by Bill Belichick‘s controversial decision to bench Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl LII, and he says the Krafts were also surprised that Belichick was able to wrangle only a second-round pick in exchange for Jimmy Garoppolo. As such, Volin suggests that keeping McDaniels really may have been less about having a succession plan and more about giving the Krafts more control over the situation. He writes, “[i]f the tension between the Krafts, Belichick, and [Tom] Brady persists, or if Belichick decides to leave the organization in the next year or two, the Krafts now have a backup plan in McDaniels.”
Now for more out of Foxborough:
- Former Patriot Willie McGinest said on the NFL Network that he spoke with McDaniels, and that McDaniels said there was “absolutely not” any type of guarantee that he would succeed Belichick as New England’s head coach (link via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk). McDaniels did indicate, however, that he would have job security with the Patriots.
- Citing a “high-level executive” with a rival team, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report says that there is another angle to the Pats’ efforts to keep McDaniels. That executive believes that New England is going to find its quarterback of the future this offseason, and the team wants McDaniels to be around to identify and develop that player.
- Speaking of QBs the Patriots might target in this year’s draft, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com spoke to Senior Bowl executive director and former Browns GM Phil Savage to see who might be Garoppolo 2.0 (assuming, of course, that the upper-echelon passers will be long gone by the time New England is on the clock with the No. 31 overall pick). Savage named Washington State’s Luke Falk, Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, and Western Kentucky’s Mike White as potential fits, with Lauletta’s skill-set most closely mirroring Garoppolo’s.
- In the same piece, Reiss reports that the sources close to the situation that he trusts the most say that the decision to bench Butler in Super Bowl LII was purely a football decision, as the team has insisted from the jump. Nonetheless, Reiss does not seem entirely convinced, as he indicates he will do more digging into the matter.
- Reiss believes, as most do, that Rob Gronkowski will return in 2018 and will not hang up the cleats just yet. Volin says it would be hard to blame Gronk if he did walk away, but he believes the tight end’s comments about retirement are probably just laying the foundation for a new contract, or at least for an incentive package similar to the one the Patriots gave him in 2017.