ESPN's Mike Reiss is reporting that long time Bill Belichick favorite Pepper Johnson will not be returning to the Patriots coaching staff.
Johnson served under Belichick as a player with the Giants, and then followed him to Cleveland when Belichick was made head coach. Once Pepper retired from playing, he joined Belichick's coaching staff in 2000 and has remained with the team ever since. His relationship with Belichick has spanned 26 years.
Johnson started as a linebacker coach, before moving to the defensive line in 2004, and back to linebackers in 2012. Pepper has openly stated that he wanted to be defensive coordinator so when Matt Patricia was selected to lead the defense, the writing was on the wall.
Pepper has put together quite a strong resume with the Patriots and clearly has a handle of the defensive front seven. He'll likely be moving to a different franchise as a defensive coordinator, or at a location with more upward mobility.
Thank you Pepper for almost a a decade and a half of wonderful coaching. Best of luck wherever you end up.