While the New England Patriots’ coaching staff did not see the turnover of offseasons past, the club still lost some valuable off-field talent this year when Nick Caserio left to become general manager of the Houston Texans. Caserio had served as the Patriots’ director of player personnel since 2008, and as such was head coach/GM Bill Belichick’s right-hand man in the front office.
With Caserio gone, the team had to turn to its trusted “next man up” philosophy. Listening to Belichick, however, it seems as if New England took a collective effort to replace the long-time executive and what he brought to the table over the last decade-plus.
One person involved in this process is former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.
“It’s good to have Matt Patricia back,” Belichick said during a recent one-on-one with Patriots.com’s Scott Zolak.
Patricia spent 14 seasons in New England — working his way all the way up to defensive coordinator — before leaving in 2018 to take over as the Detroit Lions’ new head coach. After two-and-a-half so-and-so seasons in Detroit he was fired last November and promptly returned to his old stomping grounds.
Since then, the 46-year-old has seemingly been entrusted with a wide range of assignments. Patricia was brought in to not just assist the coaching staff but he also has been involved in free agency, draft preparation and contract negotiations, at times even signing new deals on the team’s behalf.
“Of course, Matt, he’s done this for the last three years in a different organization,” Belichick said about Patricia. “So, he’s very familiar with our process, his process and all the things that go around that. He’s been really a very valuable resource and confidant, somebody to talk to who’s been through the same things that we’ve been through. His experience and perspective have been extremely valuable.”
Without trying to read too much into the statement, Belichick seems to enjoy having Patricia back and as part of the Patriots’ process — whatever his role eventually entails.
Obviously, though, he has not been the only person tasked with helping take over some of Caserio’s duties. The team also turned to his former assistant, Dave Ziegler, as well as scouting consultant Eliot Wolf and national scout Matt Groh to play a prominent role during this offseason and the pre-draft evaluation period.
“Dave, Eliot Wolf and Matt Groh have done a fantastic job of putting things together this spring,” Belichick said. “I think that we’ve gotten a lot done. I think we’re well prepared, got a lot of good information. Hopefully we can make some good decisions here.”
Ziegler, Wolf and Groh all appear to have taken on bigger jobs within the organization this year, and as a result could see their titles change sooner rather than later. The same is true for Patricia, who seems to play more of a front office and scouting role in his second stint compared to his previous gig as an assistant coach.