After already adding Matt Patricia and Evan Rothstein to their coaching staff earlier this offseason, it appears as if the New England Patriots are going back to the Detroit Lions well again: the Patriots are expected to hire former Lions assistant and long-time NFL offensive lineman Billy Yates to their staff.
According to Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston, Yates has been working with the Patriots’ coaching staff recently and should “stick around” in some capacity. It would not be the first stint in New England for the 40-year-old. After all, Yates already spent time with the organization on two previous occasions.
As a player, he joined the Patriots in 2004 after having spent his rookie season with the Miami Dolphins. Yates found more success in New England than in Miami: the former undrafted free agent spent five seasons with the organization as a reserve interior lineman and appeared in a combined 23 games, 11 of them as a starter.
Yates, who earned one Super Bowl ring along the way, left the team in 2009 to join the Cleveland Browns. He eventually announced his retirement from football two years later, turning his focus to coaching shortly thereafter.
Following a stint at Texas A&M, Yates returned to New England in the summer of 2015 via the Bill Walsh Minority Fellowship program. While he did not take on a full-time role with the team, he continued his coaching career at Bowling Green before arriving in Detroit in 2018. Yates initially worked as a coaching assistant on the defensive side of the ball before taking over as assistant offensive line coach in 2020.
With the Lions firing the aforementioned Matt Patricia as their head coach last season, however, Yates moved on as well. How his role in New England will look like remains to be seen, but it would not be a surprise to see him work closely with offensive line coaches Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo.