Matt Groh

Eliot Wolf Expected To Control Pats’ Roster

Eliot Wolf interviewed for GM gigs in the past. It now looks like the veteran exec has one, just without the title. Mentioned earlier as the likeliest exec to be running the show in New England post-Bill Belichick, Wolf is indeed expected to be at the top of the Patriots’ front office structure this year.

The second-generation personnel man is expected to have control of the Pats’ 53-man roster, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. Wolf, 41, will work closely with new HC Jerod Mayo; when it comes to final say, however, it is expected Wolf will hold the power Belichick wielded for so long. Wolf most recently held the title of scouting director in New England, but Rapoport adds Matt Groh is expected to be in charge of the team’s college scouting.

Wolf’s influence can be felt early this offseason. The Patriots have hired ex-Packers assistants Alex Van Pelt, Ben McAdoo, Jerry Montgomery and Alonzo Highsmith. The latter, who worked with Wolf in Green Bay and Cleveland, will hold the title of senior personnel executive, Rapoport adds.

This will represent a belated rise for Wolf, whom the Packers considered as Ted Thompson‘s GM successor in 2018. The team instead promoted Brian Gutekunst, and Wolf joined Highsmith in leaving for Cleveland. The Browns installed Wolf as their assistant GM under John Dorsey. Following Dorsey’s 2020 ouster, Wolf and Highsmith worked as consultants in Seattle. While Highsmith stayed, Wolf left to become part of the Pats’ then-Belichick-led front office.

Wolf interviewed for the Colts’ GM job back in 2017 and has been on the GM radar elsewhere in the recent past. The Bears and Vikings considered Wolf for their GM openings in 2022, respectively hiring Ryan Poles and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. The Patriots also gave Groh the title of player personnel director in 2022, keeping Wolf as their scouting director under Belichick. Following the latter’s exit, it appears Eliot Wolf will follow in his father’s footsteps as the top personnel man in an organization.

Longtime Al Davis right-hand man Ron Wolf later served as Packers GM from 1991-2001. This span included the Packers acquiring Brett Favre from the Falcons and signing Reggie White to close his much-publicized free agency tour a year later. Those pillars became all-time greats, solidifying their legacies in Green Bay while helping snap a near-30-year Super Bowl drought for Titletown. While Eliot Wolf did not join Green Bay’s front office until 2004, he worked with the organization his father transformed for nearly 15 years. Eliot climbed to the director of football operations position by 2016.

Given Belichick’s towering presence within the organization for 24 years, Wolf will naturally step into a high-pressure spot. Though, Belichick did not account himself especially well on the personnel side in recent years. The team’s post-Tom Brady decline does make the the prioritizing of continuity interesting here, but Wolf, Groh and Mayo will be in charge of leading this reconstruction effort — one that will include the No. 3 overall pick, the highest Patriots draft choice since 1993.

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.

Latest On Bill Belichick’s Patriots Future

As we get closer to Black Monday, the job status of Bill Belichick will continue to command headlines. While it’s still uncertain if the legendary coach will stick in New England, it sounds like rival teams are preparing for a divorce.

According to Josina Anderson, there are “teams within the NFC South” that have “potential” interest in Belichick. Considering the Panthers’ midseason coaching change, the organization has been loosely connected to Belichick. Mike Jurecki of Arizona Football Daily confirms that Carolina “has always been an option.”

However, there haven’t been any previous rumblings of a pursuit by the Buccaneers, Saints, nor Falcons. Each of those teams’ head coaches could be at risk of losing their jobs, so it’s hard to definitively point to any one team based on Anderson’s report.

It sounds like it isn’t just rival teams that are anticipating a break up. According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, some Patriots staff members are “bracing for change.” As a result, these individuals “have begun examining outside opportunities out of necessity,” a hint that Robert Kraft and co. could make sweeping changes to the organization.

Andrew Callahan and Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald recently explored what led up to this point in New England. Following a dismal showing from the offense in 2022, there was hope in New England that replacing Matt Patricia with Bill O’Brien would solve some of the issues. However, Belichick was a proponent of sticking with Patricia, and while O’Brien tried to clean house on the offensive coaching staff, the head coach denied the request. This led to a divide on the offensive coaching staff, and the new OC had clear frustrations with the WR and OL coaches.

It sounds like those frustrations were shared by the assistant coaches, although they weren’t necessarily targeted at O’Brien. A source told Callahan and Kyed that newly-hired offensive line coach Adrian Klemm “confronted” director of player personnel Matt Groh “in a loud exchange” earlier this season. Klemm would later take a leave of absence, resulting in assistant coach Billy Yates and veteran OL James Ferentz leading the unit. Per the Boston Herald, Klemm isn’t expected to be back with the Patriots next season.

There were also issues among players. Cornerback Jack Jones “blew up” at position coach Mike Pellegrino after not starting the Germany game, leading to the player’s release, according to the Herald. Meanwhile, offensive lineman Trent Brown reportedly spoke openly about leaving for an NFC team this upcoming offseason.

Ultimately, sources believe Belichick’s “personnel control and inability to assemble a functional staff” led to his demise in New England. Still, these sources stressed that players continued to play hard for their head coach, and there’s a belief that he “hasn’t lost his fastball as a hands-on coach.” We’ll soon learn if Kraft feels the same way.