While Dante Scarnecchia was part of the New England Patriots’ contingent at the scouting combine in Indianapolis last week, the 72-year-old will no longer be on the practice fields or the sideline for the team: Scarnecchia announced his retirement from coaching in January, and will apparently only remain in contact with the organization through a consulting and scouting role — much like he did when he first retired for two years back in 2013.
The Patriots have not officially named a replacement for the long-time assistant coach and five-time Super Bowl winner, even though the team has some viable in-house candidates in coaching assistant Carmen Bricillo and assistant running backs coach Cole Popovich. With an announcement yet to be made, however, other options might still be on the table as well. That being said, one of them can be crossed off that list now: Ryan Wendell.
If a recent announcement by the Buffalo Bills is any indication, Wendell will not leave the club to join his former team as Scarnecchia’s heir: the Patriots’ division rivals announced on Wednesday that they have promoted the 34-year-old from coaching assistant to assistant offensive line coach. A move to New England, where he spent the first eight seasons of his playing career in the NFL, therefore seems to be off the table for Wendell.
All in all, Wendell appeared in 91 games for the Patriots between 2008 and 2015. A versatile interior blocker, the Fresno State product became the team’s starting center in 2012 after Dan Koppen’s departure. Two years later, he moved to right guard — a role in which he helped the Patriots win Super Bowl 49 against the Seattle Seahawks. After leaving New England, he went on appeared in one game for the Carolina Panthers in 2016.
Following his retirement, Wendell became a member of the NFL Players Association’s executive committee before stepping down and eventually joining the Bills last offseason. With his responsibilities in Buffalo growing, the Patriots will meanwhile have to look elsewhere for their next O-line coach. Bricillo and Popovich head a list of candidates that also might include assistant quarterbacks coach Mick Lombardi and offseason addition Jedd Fisch.