The New England Patriots’ offseason will start sooner than usual this year. With the 6-9 team already eliminated from playoff contention, the Week 17 game against the visiting New York Jets will be the Patriots’ final one of the 2020 campaign.
This also means that the team’s assistant coaches and front office members will have more time than in years past to pursue other opportunities outside the organization. And according to reports by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo, four people in particular have created an early buzz as the regular season is coming to an end.
Scouting consultant Eliot Wolf, who arrived in New England in March 2020, is among the candidates to possibly fill a front office role with the Detroit Lions — a team that has fired its previous general manager, Bob Quinn, in late November.
Before joining the Patriots, Wolf worked numerous roles: starting his career in the Green Bay Packers’ pro personnel department in 2004, he worked his way up the organization to become director of pro personnel (2012-14), of player personnel (2015), and of football operations (2016-2017). In 2018, he joined the Cleveland Browns as assistant general manager but was let go again in 2020. Following a short stint in Seattle, he arrived in New England.
The Houston Texans, meanwhile, have set their sights on three members of the Patriots among a litany of other candidates to be brought aboard. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels would be a candidate to fill the vacant head coaching position, with inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo — a fast riser in NFL coaching circles — seemingly an option to take over as well or at least to join the Texans in some other capacity.
McDaniels being named as a head coaching candidate is neither new nor surprising given his experience in the league and the success he has enjoyed with the Patriots. His short-lived stint with the Denver Broncos from 2009 to 2010 may have been a tumultuous one, but it seems as if teams still hold the 44-year-old in high regard.
As for New England’s long-time offensive play caller himself, he would very much welcome another shot at a head coaching gig. McDaniels said as much during a media conference call last month:
“Absolutely. I definitely want to do that. I’d love to have that opportunity if it presents itself.”
As for Jerod Mayo, he is on the Texans’ radar despite being in only his second year as an NFL assistant coach. A former first-round linebacker who spent eight seasons with the Patriots and won a Super Bowl along the way, Mayo has coached New England’s inside linebackers the last two seasons. He may not be a realistic candidate to leave just yet, but he certainly seems to be a name to watch moving forward — both when it comes to his opportunities with the Patriots and elsewhere.
Finally, there is Nick Caserio, who once again appears on the Texans’ radar for their open general manager spot. While classified as a “name of interest” rather than a concrete candidate that has been or will be pursued by the club, Caserio and the Texans do have a history together: the team has tried to lure him away for quite some time now, with the latest attempt leading to the Patriots filing tampering charges against Houston.
Caserio did sign a new contract with the Patriots last offseason, but a promotion in terms of title and responsibilities — moving from director of player personnel under de facto GM Bill Belichick to general manager with final say over the roster — might still be enough to lure him away.