Jerod Mayo

Patriots Notes: Covington, Brown, Wolf

Considering New England’s unconventional approach to their defensive coaching staff in recent years, it was uncertain how much control new defensive coordinator DeMarcus Covington would have on Jerod Mayo‘s staff. It sounds like Covington will have full authority over his defense, as the coach revealed to reporters today that he’ll be the defensive play-caller this season (via Karen Guregian of MassLive).

It had been years since Bill Belichick employed a traditional DC, with Mayo and Steve Belichick most recently splitting the unofficial role. The younger Belichick was the one calling defensive plays, but he won’t be sticking around New England after taking the DC job at the University of Washington. Mayo himself could have been a candidate for the defensive play-caller role, but it sounds like he’ll be leaning on his DC during games.

This will be Covington’s first time serving in either of those two roles in the NFL. Following a one-season stint as Eastern Illinois’ DC, he’s served in a variety of roles on New England’s coaching staff.

On the other side of the ball, Troy Brown will be sticking around as the Patriots’ wide receivers coach (via Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald). The long-time Patriots WR transitioned to coaching following his playing career, and he’s guided New England’s wideouts since the 2021 campaign. With Mayo revamping the coaching staff, it was uncertain if Brown would be retained in his current role.

Elsewhere in New England, there’s been a bit of confusion surrounding who’s actually leading the front office. Eliot Wolf is expected to control the 53-man roster for at least the time being, and it sounds like the executive had some extra responsibilities while Mayo filled his coaching staff. The new Patriots head coach told reporters that Wolf participated in all of the coaching interviews this offseason (via Kyed).

The son of Pro Football Hall of Fame executive Ron Wolf, Eliot Wolf spent more than a decade with Green Bay before joining New England’s operation. His experience with the Packers has clearly been reflected on the coaching staff, as the team has brought in ex-Packers assistants like Alex Van Pelt, Ben McAdoo, Jerry Montgomery and Alonzo Highsmith.

Patriots Gave Bill O’Brien Chance To Stay; Latest On Team’s Coaching Staff

Bill O’Brien‘s second stint with the Patriots ended after one season. The Pats’ 2023 offensive coordinator has since committed to both Ohio State and Boston College, becoming the ACC program’s head coach after initially pledging to be the Buckeyes’ OC.

With O’Brien set to replace Jeff Hafley as Boston College’s HC, he not do so after being booted from the Patriots. The veteran coach said he was given an opportunity to stay on under Jerod Mayo. A number of Bill Belichick assistants are still in place, including Brian Belichick, but O’Brien is now back in the college ranks.

[RELATED: Patriots Promote DeMarcus Covington To DC]

I definitely had an opportunity to stay,” O’Brien said (via WEEI.com’s Mike Kadlick). “I thought it was really important for coach Mayo to hire his own staff. I came and worked for Bill Belichick, and I think it’s really important for Jerod to be able to hire his own staff. The Krafts were great about that, and I really appreciate that. And Ryan Day was awesome about offering me a job, so that’s why I made that decision.”

Robert Kraft played a key role in bringing O’Brien back to Foxborough. A rumor pegged Belichick as remaining interested in keeping Matt Patricia on as the Patriots’ de facto OC. But O’Brien — the Pats’ OC in 2011, closing out a multiyear play-calling stint with the team — brought extensive experience on the offensive side. This led Patricia to Philadelphia. O’Brien committed to Ohio State on Jan. 18. The Packers hired Hafley on Jan. 31. Days later, O’Brien agreed to come back to Boston.

A January report indicated the Pats were not planning to run it back with O’Brien as OC; he would have needed to vie for the job as part of a search. O’Brien took his name out of consideration early. After a thorough search, the Patriots ended up with ex-Browns OC Alex Van Pelt, who has one season of play-calling experience. But Van Pelt represents a new voice in a building still filled with Belichick assistants.

Mayo having only worked for the Patriots led to some concerns about his ability to fill out a staff, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes. This helps explain why Eliot Wolf, who is believed to be the team’s new front office boss, was involved in coaching searches and why a few ex-Packers assistants are part of Mayo’s first staff. Wolf was a regular presence in coaching interviews during this hiring period. He and Van Pelt overlapped as Packers staffers from 2012-17.

Ben McAdoo is another ex-Packers assistant who is now with the Patriots. The former Giants HC and Van Pelt worked together in Green Bay from 2012-13, a stay that ended with McAdoo as QBs coach and Van Pelt as running backs coach. After the Giants hired McAdoo as their OC in 2014, Van Pelt — a longtime NFL backup QB — shifted over to become Aaron Rodgers‘ position coach. While McAdoo will now work for Van Pelt, Volin adds he hold the title of senior offensive assistant in New England.

Additionally, the Patriots will split up their linebacking coach role. Dont’a Hightower will coach the team’s outside ‘backers, per Volin. Drew Wilkins is overseeing the ILBs. This will allow Hightower a smoother path into the coaching ranks. The standout Patriot has not held a full-time coaching job previously.

The Pats are also hiring Taylor Embree as their running backs coach, according to the Boston Herald’s Doug Kyed. Embree, 35, spent the past three years coaching the Jets’ running backs. The team dismissed the former Mike LaFleur hire earlier this offseason. The son of Dolphins TEs coach/ex-Colorado HC Jon Embree, Taylor had been a lower-level staffer under Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. The Jets gig marked the 35-year-old assistant’s first position coach role in the NFL.

Patriots tight ends coach Will Lawing is on track to follow O’Brien to Boston College, ESPN.com’s Pete Thamel tweets. This is not exactly surprising, as Lawing has worked with O’Brien for more than 10 years. Lawing followed O’Brien to Penn State, the Texans, Alabama and then the Patriots.

Poll: Which Team Made Best HC Hire?

This year’s HC cycle became the rare carousel to generate more attention around the coaches who did not land jobs than the ones hired. Bill Belichick and Mike Vrabel being left out will assuredly generate stories ahead of the 2025 hiring period, and it will be worth monitoring if Pete Carroll is connected to another coaching job.

But eight teams — up from five in 2023 — made the decision to change coaches. Dan Quinn‘s hire filled the final vacancy. While the Commanders’ process generated extensive fallout, teams are now moving forward with staff assembly following their HC hires.

The Commanders look to have gone through a bit of back-and-forth about their interest in Lions OC Ben Johnson. Pushing back on the notion the two-year Detroit play-caller was their top choice all along, Washington will give Quinn a second chance. But the former Dallas DC may well have been Washington’s third choice; the team made an aggressive push to land Mike Macdonald as well. The Seahawks finished that 11th-hour competition by giving the young Ravens DC a six-year deal.

Only Seattle and Washington waited until after the conference championship games to hire their coaches. Macdonald, who is half Carroll’s age, becomes the NFL’s youngest HC (36). (New Patriots leader Jerod Mayo, 37, held that title for several days.) A Ravens defense that carried major questions in the pass-rushing department led the NFL in sacks while leading the league in scoring defense as well. Quinn re-established his value over three years in Dallas, restoring that unit as one of the game’s best. While Quinn has the Super Bowl LI collapse on his resume and went 0-for-3 in playoff berths over his final three seasons in Atlanta, Washington’s new ownership group will bet on the experienced staffer.

Although the Commanders’ search produced a number of headlines, the Falcons introduced this year’s top “what if?” storyline. The only team serious about hiring Belichick, interviewing him twice, the Falcons steered clear of the six-time Super Bowl-winning HC. While Arthur Blank went into the hiring period prepared to hire the 24-year Patriots leader, it appears other Falcons higher-ups — in an effort potentially connected to their own statuses — helped sway the owner toward the Raheem Morris hire.

Morris, whom Falcons CEO Rich McKay hired during his time as Bucs GM in the early 2000s, will make the historically rare move of returning to coach a team years after operating as its interim HC. Morris left Atlanta on good terms in 2021 and comes back after a successful run as the Rams’ DC. Though, Belichick will undoubtedly be tied to Morris during the latter’s second Atlanta stay.

It took a six-year contract for the Panthers to bring in Bucs OC Dave Canales, who parlayed his first coordinator season into a head coaching gig. The Panthers trading the No. 1 overall pick and David Tepper‘s reputation as an impulsive meddler played into Carolina’s search, but the team had long been connected — despite Frank Reich‘s struggles — to pursuing an offense-oriented leader. Carolina also pursued Johnson for a second year but did not wait to make an attempt to interview him in-person. Following his work with Geno Smith and Baker Mayfield, Canales will be charged with developing Bryce Young.

The Titans also went offense with their hire, adding five-year Bengals non-play-calling OC Brian Callahan to succeed Vrabel. Zac Taylor‘s longtime lieutenant probably would have landed a job earlier had he called plays in a Joe Burrow-piloted offense, but the Titans will turn to the 39-year-old candidate to develop Will Levis. Brian Callahan will also technically oversee his father this coming season, hiring well-regarded Browns O-line coach Bill Callahan to the same position. This will be the Callahans’ first time on the same staff.

Las Vegas and New England each went with in-house solutions. The Raiders became the first team in seven years to elevate an interim HC to the full-time position. Mark Davis listened to his players, after expressing regret about not removing Rich Bisaccia‘s interim tag in 2022. But the second-generation owner also passed on interviewing other viable candidates for the job, only going through with required interviews to comply with the Rooney Rule. While Pierce accounted himself well as a leader during the season’s second half, his experience level is quite thin compared to just about every other HC hire in modern NFL history.

Using a Rooney Rule workaround by including language in Mayo’s contract about succeeding Belichick, the Patriots also passed on a true search. Robert Kraft intervened last year, extending Mayo after the Panthers had sought a meeting, and will give the keys to the recent Patriots linebacker. Mayo’s time in coaching does not match Pierce’s, though the former has spent more time as an NFL assistant. The franchise is largely keeping the Patriot Way going, promoting from within to fill the HC position and elevating an in-house staffer (Eliot Wolf) to fill the de facto GM post, only with Belichick no longer involved.

The highest-profile hire came out of Los Angeles. The Chargers became the team to lure Jim Harbaugh back to the pros. The Bolts gave the accomplished HC a $16MM salary — over five years — and signed off on allowing final say. Harbaugh has won everywhere he has been and held leverage in the form of another Michigan extension offer and a second Falcons interview being scheduled. The Bolts did not let him leave for that meeting and gave Harbaugh significant input into Tom Telesco‘s GM replacement (Joe Hortiz). Harbaugh’s final NFL snaps came with the Chargers, and after hiring three first-time HCs under Telesco, the team will make a bigger bet to turn things around.

Which team ended up doing the best with its 2024 hire? Why did Belichick fail to land a job? Will he and Vrabel be back in 2025? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this year’s HC market in the comments.

2024 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

The Commanders’ hire has wrapped this year’s cycle. Barring a team making an 11th-hour change, the 2024 HC carousel has come to a stop. The final breakdown produced five defensive coaches being hired compared to three with backgrounds on offense. Many teams are still searching for offensive and defensive coordinators, however.

Updated 2-1-24 (10:37am CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

  • Jerod Mayo, linebackers coach (Patriots): Hired

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

Patriots Notes: Steve Belichick, Mayo, Front Office, ST Coordinator

While Bill Belichick‘s iconic stint with the Patriots has come to an end, there’s a chance his sons stick with the organization. According to Albert Breer of SI.com, both Steve Belichick and Brian Belichick have been offered opportunities to stay on the staff for 2024.

Steve Belichick has worked his way up through New England’s coaching ranks, culminating in him earning the roles of defensive play-caller and linebackers coach. New head coach Jerod Mayo worked closely with Steve, as the two effectively served as New England’s defensive coordinator over the past few years. While the elder Belichick could recruit his son to his next destination, the younger Belichick still has a strong connection to Mayo and the Patriots.

Brian Belichick joined the organization as a scouting assistant in 2016 and eventually earned a promotion to coaching assistant. After three years in that role, he was promoted to safeties coach, a gig he’s held since the 2020 campaign.

More notes out of New England…

  • The Patriots quick decision to promote Mayo wasn’t a knee-jerk reaction, a fact we already partly knew considering the outlined succession plan in the coach’s contract. However, Breer notes that Robert Kraft has been touting Mayo as his next head coach for two years, with the owner telling others that Mayo would earn the promotion if Belichick left the organization.
  • Belichick’s exit didn’t only open a hole on the sideline. Belichick also had full control over personnel, meaning the Patriots now have a GM-sized hole in their front office. We previously heard the organization was expected to lean on their current staff, a grouping that includes director of player personnel Matt Groh and director of scouting Eliot Wolf. If that configuration doesn’t work out, Breer says Kraft could end up looking to hire a GM, although the owner won’t be rushed into any decision. Breer also notes that the Patriots will better empower their scouting a department, a group that was becoming increasingly “frustrated that they weren’t being heard in the final decision-making process.”
  • The Patriots have requested permission to interview Falcons special teams coordinator Marquice Williams for the same job, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Williams got his NFL coaching start via the Bill Walsh NFL diversity coaching fellowship, and he worked his way up with the Bears, Lions, and Chargers before joining the Lions as the assistant ST coordinator in 2019. After two years in that role, he earned the top ST gig in Atlanta in 2021.
  • Before the team’s season finale, the Patriots converted Lawrence Guy‘s $500K playing-time incentive into a bonus, guaranteeing the veteran’s money regardless of his snap count in Week 18. Guy would have earned the incentive had he appeared in 45 percent of his team’s defensive snaps, and he entered Week 18 having played in 45.57 percent. Guy ended up clinching that mark during the loss to the Jets.
  • During that season finale, most signs pointed to it being special teams ace Matthew Slater‘s final NFL game. ESPN’s Mike Reiss writes that there were “strong hints” that the captain would be hanging up his cleats, with the Patriots wearing custom, Slater-themed hoodies and the player’s family being in attendance.

Latest On Patriots’ Leadership

When Bill Belichick and the Patriots parted ways, New England didn’t only lose a head coach, they lost a general manager, as well. That departure has left the team with a lot of questions concerning the current and future makeup of the team’s front office. One of the biggest questions with the 2024 NFL Draft on the horizon: who will be making draft day decisions?

The easy answer points to an external or internal candidate to replace Belichick in the role of general manager. Recent reports provided by Chris Mason of MassLive seem to point in a different direction, though, indicating that the team is in no rush to hire a replacement. Whether that means the team will wait months, until after the draft, to either promote or hire someone into the general manager role, or if that means that the Patriots are confident in the current structure without a de facto general manager, it sounds like New England could be relying on current personnel to draft this April.

That current brass is composed of director of player personnel Matt Groh, director of scouting Eliot Wolf, pro scouting director Steve Cargile, college scouting director Camren Williams, and senior personnel advisor Patrick Stewart. Jeff Howe of The Athletic explained that, in a fairly fluid situation, Groh and Wolf are running the operation for now, and there’s no guarantee that anyone will end up with the title of general manager. They, along with Cargile, Williams, and Stewart, though, are expected to remain in place at least through the draft.

If the team does decide to go internal, Wolf appears to be one of the most well-positioned candidates. Before his tenure in New England, Wolf spent two years as the Browns’ assistant general manager. ESPN’s Mike Reiss claims that the past four years for Wolf have effectively served as “an extended job interview.” That being said, the possibility of an external candidate has not been ruled out. New head coach Jerod Mayo has reportedly spoken with external candidates from opposing front offices in consideration for the job.

Speaking of Mayo, there are some who have questioned the Patriots’ quick trigger finger on hiring Belichick’s coaching replacement. Some executives and coaches are reportedly surprised that New England rushed into the hire and didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to interview other candidates, even if just to gather information that could be beneficial in the future.

Mayo’s hiring doesn’t answer the questions at offensive coordinator either. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, while Bill O’Brien currently remains in place as the team’s offensive playcaller, an O’Brien departure could lead to a reunion with Josh McDaniels, fresh off his most recent attempt at being a head coach.

There are many questions in New England from the front office to the coaching staff. Will the team go internal or external to replace Belichick as a general manager? Will the Patriots hire a general manager at all? Who will join Mayo on his first coaching staff? New England has lots of questions to answer, but ownership appears to be in no rush to answer them.

Patriots Promote Jerod Mayo To HC

The Patriots have immediately filled Bill Belichick‘s coaching position. New England has promoted linebackers coach Jerod Mayo as the team’s new head coach, ESPN’s Mike Reiss notes. The team has since announced the move.

As previously noted, the Patriots included succession language in Mayo’s latest contract. As a result, the team was not obligated to satisfy the Rooney Rule and interview outside candidates for the position. Instead, Mayo has immediately been tapped to lead the Patriots on the sidelines beginning in the 2024 season, one which will be the first in nearly a quarter century without Belichick at the helm.

Given Mayo’s stock within the organization, the move (which Reiss adds will be made confirmed in a press conference next week) comes as little surprise. The former first-round pick spent his entire playing career in New England, earning a number of accolades along the way including Defensive Rookie of the Year, two Pro Bowl invitations and an All-Pro nod after leading the league in tackles in 2010. He has been a Patriots coach since 2019.

Mayo was seen as a HC candidate in New England but around the NFL as well. The Panthers extended an invitation to interview him for their vacancy last offseason, but he turned it down. With his status as Belichick’s heir apparent seemingly confirmed with his new contract, Mayo was frequently labeled the top candidate to watch in the event the Patriots parted ways with their 24-year coach. Indeed, Dianna Russini of The Athletic reports New England made no inquiries into the top outside candidates in this year’s cycle, opting to immediately turn to Mayo once Belichick was officially gone.

At the age of 37, Mayo will now surpass Sean McVay as the league’s youngest head coach. The Rams Super Bowl winner has proven to be a sound hire given his track record, but Mayo’s resume is considerably thinner than that of many other options currently on the market. Nevertheless, he will now be tasked with helping to oversee a signficant organizational reset, a process which will include the hiring of a general manager after decades of Belichick wearing both hats.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network confirms New England will now look to bring in a GM to partner with Mayo. Given the relative inexperience of the team’s new coach, a lengthy track record in the front office would presumably be a key target for New England’s next hire. Struggles in the draft during the past several years has left the Patriots short on cost-effective talent at a number of positions, something the new decision-makers will look to rectify as soon as possible.

Set to be among the league leaders in cap space ahead of free agency and owners of the No. 3 pick in April’s draft, the Patriots will be a team to watch closely this offseason. Acquiring a franchise quarterback will be a top priority given the struggles shown by Mac Jones over the past two seasons and the lack of starting-level promise shown by Bailey Zappe. It remains to be seen who will lead the organization in the front office moving forward, but Mayo can now begin the transition to head coaching responsibilities for the first time in his career.

Given today’s news, the first of eight HC vacancies around the league has been filled. Plenty of other dominoes have yet to fall, but New England now has its 2024 plan in place along the sidelines before any of the other teams still in need of a new hire.

Patriots, Bill Belichick To Part Ways

As expected, Bill Belichick‘s run in New England is set to come to an end in 2024. He and Patriots owner Robert Kraft have mutually agreed to part ways, ESPN’s Mike Reiss and Adam Schefter report.

As the report notes, the move – which will be officially announced later today – came after discussions between Belichick and Kraft over the past few days. Those talks occurred without “conflict” or “disagreement,” and now both sides have elected to go their separate ways. One of the key figures in the NFL’s preeminent 21st century dynasty now faces an uncertain future.

Belichick was under contract through 2024 as a result of an offseason extension. That pact was set to lengthen his stay in New England and give him a strong chance of breaking Don Shula‘s all-time wins record. However, the 2023 campaign saw the Patriots’ regression continue with a 4-13 record. That mark was the team’s worst during Belichick’s 24-year tenure with the team, and the season was punctuated with increasing speculation he would be gone by the start of next year.

A recent report indicated the six-time Super Bowl winner was willing to cede personnel duties as part of an agreement to remain with the Patriots. Belichick had served as New England’s head coach and de facto general manager since arriving in 2000. His missteps in a front office capacity (particularly in the draft) have limited the strength of New England’s roster over the past several years, though, which has in turn hurt his coaching performances. In four years after the free agent departure of Tom Brady – with whom Belichick partnered to go on an unprecedented run of success – New England has made the postseason only once and has not secured a playoff victory.

A key sticking point in speculation about the future of the Kraft-Belichick relationship was the manner in which it would come to an end. Still retaining the latter’s rights, the Patriots could have insisted on trading him to one of the numerous teams reported as having interest. That move would have ensured new England receive compensation, something which did not take place when Brady left. Belichick’s preference was obviously a path which made him a free agent, however, and that will now be the case. His market will be a major factor in the 2024 hiring cycle.

Schefter confirms Belichick will want to continue coaching in 2024 as his pursuit of Shula’s record continues. He needs 15 wins to move into first on the all-time list, so at least a two-year stint with his next team will likely be required. At the age of 71, questions about how long he will be willing to carry on his career have been raised, but ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler notes a robust market is expected to emerge for his services.

Many teams with HC vacancies – a list which now covers eight of the NFL’s 32 franchises – have been linked to one extent or another to the future Hall of Famer. The ESPN report names the Falcons in particular as one to watch as Atlanta seeks out an Arthur Smith replacement. After the rookie coach delivered three underwhelming campaigns, Belichick would represent a much more experienced option to take charge of a roster featuring a number of intriguing pieces (albeit a substantial hole at the QB position).

While Atlanta will no doubt have competition to pursue Belichick, at least one team on the lookout for a new coach is out of the running. The Commanders are not expected to have interest in a Belichick acquisition, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports reports. As expected, Washington moved on from Ron Rivera on Black Monday. The team is undergoing a major restructuring under new owner Josh Harris, who had been reported as a potential Belichick suitor. Instead, Harris will turn his attention elsewhere.

Of course, the way in which Kraft and the Patriots proceed in the coming weeks will be a major storyline. Linebackers coach Jerod Mayo (who turned down HC interest from outside teams last offseason and received a new Patriots deal to keep him in place) has frequently been named as Belichick’s heir apparent. The 37-year-old is indeed a top candidate amongst in-house options, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson confirms. She adds, however, that no coach from within the organization or amongst the outside options is firmly in the lead for the New England vacancy at this point.

Mike Vrabel has been named as a candidate to watch since his somewhat surprising Titans dismissal earlier in the week. Vrabel had a successful run as a player in New England and, by virtue of not being traded, he is free to pursue the New England gig if he wishes to hold the title of Belichick’s successor. Given the latter’s track record, whichever coach ultimately replaces him will face a daunting task given his illustrious career and lengthy list of accolades.

In all, Belichick will depart New England with a record of 296-133, 17 AFC East titles, nine Super Bowl appearances and six championships. His struggles without Brady – not to mention the numerous scandals the franchise was involved in during his tenure – will of course be a part of his legacy. However, his impact on New England and the NFL as a whole is undeniable, and his career is set to continue in a new setting for the first time in nearly a quarter century. Likewise, the coming changes on the sidelines and in the front office will make the 2024 offseason a seminal moment in Patriots history.

Patriots Notes: Kraft, Mayo, Caserio

Following a 24-year partnership, the Patriots and Bill Belichick mutually decided to part ways today. While the divorce didn’t necessarily come as a surprise, the organization’s handling of the separation raised some eyebrows.

[RELATED: Patriots, Bill Belichick To Part Ways]

Leading up to today’s announcement, there were rumblings that a number of teams would have interest in adding Belichick. Considering the iconic head coach was still under contract for another year, there was some speculation that the Patriots may try to squeeze compensation out of any suitors. However, much like how Robert Kraft handled the Tom Brady divorce, the owner thought his head coach deserved to pursue whatever opportunity he wanted.

“I didn’t think it was right for Tom Brady, who gave us 20 years, and I don’t think it’s right for Bill,” Kraft told reporters (via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero).

There was a recent sentiment from some within the organization that Belichick hadn’t “lost his fastball” from a coaching perspective. Instead, many were questioning Belichick’s personnel decisions, whether it was regarding the draft, free agency, and even some of his coaching hires. That led some to wonder if Belichick would willingly cede personnel authority in order to stick around New England as head coach.

However, while Kraft acknowledged that he thought of such an arrangement, he never believed it would work. The owner told reporters that such a move would “create confusion with accountability” (as Jeff Howe of The Athletic passes along).

Belichick’s exit creates a vacancy on both the sideline and the front office. A number of Patriots-related coaches have been connected to the HC gig; former players Jerod Mayo and Mike Vrabel are both considered major contenders to take over. In fact, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport passes along that Mayo’s recent deal with the organization includes a “firm, contractual succession plan,” details that were passed along to the NFL. While the Patriots have no obligation to name Mayo as their next head coach, Rapoport notes that the organization doesn’t have to go through the hiring process if Mayo is indeed the choice.

Naturally, the same logic is being used with the front office, but one familiar face doesn’t have interest in a reunion. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe recently passed along that the Patriots could be eyeing former director of player personnel Nick Caserio to lead their front office. However, the current Texans general manager denied the rumors during a recent appearance on Sports Radio 610.

“Whoever these reporters are that make these ridiculous statements, maybe you want to talk to me about it first before putting information out there that has zero basis,” Caserio said during the appearance (via Tyler Milner of Sports Radio 610).

Bill Belichick-Patriots Separation Likely To Take Weeks To Finalize

The expectation around the NFL still points to the Patriots having a non-Bill Belichick HC for the first time since 1999, but Robert Kraft has kept his cards close to the vest. A process that likely will involve trade talks is not expected to be finalized especially soon.

Kraft has kept Belichick in the dark about his future, according to the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin, who indicates the two are scheduled to meet Monday. While owner-HC meetings the day after the regular season ends drove the term “Black Monday” into existence in the NFL, Volin adds the expectation will be for Kraft and Belichick to meet multiple times over the ensuing several weeks before finality arrives.

Belichick has sufficient credentials to avoid a Black Monday ouster, and the Patriots have long been expected to be aiming at avoiding an outright firing. It may come to that, as it is possible Belichick will not want to accept any additional power stripped — like a GM coming in to work alongside him — and would seek to be fired in order to be part of the coaching carousel on time. A drawn-out divorce would affect Belichick’s ability to land with another team. HC-needy teams can begin interviewing candidates on other staffs after the divisional round.

Kraft’s silence could point to demands from Belichick, Volin offers, in an attempt to salvage the situation. Kraft has famously intervened on multiple occasions in recent years, most notably in the Jimmy Garoppolo trade, and the longtime owner solidified Jerod Mayo‘s place on Belichick’s staff with an extension this past offseason. Belichick giving into more demands from Kraft would not be ideal for the 24-year Patriots HC, but if there is not a strong market for his services, that would seemingly be an option the future Hall of Famer considers.

As of late December, Belichick wanted to stay in New England and was not planning to resign. Doing so would be a costly move with another season of top-tier coaching money on the table in the event he stays on for a 25th season or is fired. The longer he remains in limbo with the Patriots, the longer other teams move on to other HC candidates.

Mayo resides the front of the line to replace Belichick, per SI.com’s Albert Breer, who notes the extension he signed this offseason — after a conversation with Kraft led to the linebackers coach turning down a chance to interview for the Panthers’ HC job — parallels Belichick’s in running through 2024. A former Patriots linebacker who has been on Belichick’s staff for five seasons, Mayo would become the NFL’s second-youngest active HC if hired; at 37, Mayo is two months younger than Sean McVay.

Kraft’s intervention with Mayo does point to the longtime Boston-area resident being a serious candidate, and going in that direction would be rather interesting. It would ensure continuity but also keep the Belichick pipeline flowing, just without Belichick. On that note, Volin adds a Brian Flores return has also generated some buzz. Flores made his mark as a Belichick assistant for over a decade, finishing that 11-year run as the de facto defensive coordinator for a Patriots team that held the Rams without a touchdown in Super Bowl LIII. Flores, 42, is finishing up his first season as the Vikings’ DC.

With Flores and Mike Vrabel being on the radar — Volin still lists the Titans’ HC as the Pats “home run” hire, though it would take a notable trade package to pry him from the Titans — signs point to Kraft preferring someone familiar with the Patriot Way rather than a true outsider. An overhaul would make sense given the shadow Belichick casts, but a transition to a current or former assistant would be smoother. As for Vrabel, he reaffirmed his commitment to the Titans. But the Patriots are believed to be monitoring that situation, which has involved rumors of discord between Vrabel and rookie GM Ran Carthon.

Flores returning to Foxborough would also be interesting due to his discrimination lawsuit including a text from Belichick believing Flores would be the Giants’ HC hire in 2022. Belichick later said he misunderstood the situation, as another of his former assistants — Brian Daboll — became New York’s hire. Flores also backed out of the Cardinals’ interview process last year. The lawsuit has not impeded the former Dolphins HC’s career, and it would not surprise to see multiple teams reach out about their HC vacancy this coming offseason.

A Mayo promotion or Flores return would assuredly also come with Kraft hiring either a true GM or someone with similar responsibilities. It also is worth wondering if another organization would give Belichick GM power. While the Panthers and perhaps another NFC South team have interest in the NFL sideline staple, his recent run as the Pats’ de facto GM is largely responsible for their swoon. GM power — be it with the Pats or another team, possibly the Chargers — will be part of this equation, but the drama here looks likely to last for a bit.