The New England Patriots need to find a new director of player personnel. Dave Ziegler, who held the role in 2021, has left the organization to join the Las Vegas Raiders as their new general manager. Ziegler will team up with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels — Las Vegas’ new head coach — to lead the Raiders moving forward.
As is the case with McDaniels’ departure, Ziegler’s also forces the Patriots to make some adjustments. How those will look like remains to be seen, but for now let’s focus on what the move means from New England’s point of view.
Bill Belichick will need a new right-hand man
Head coach Bill Belichick is not officially listed as New England’s general manager, but he is pretty much just that. No decision is being made without his blessing and he has total control over the team’s roster. Belichick is the Patriots’ GM.
The director of player personnel, meanwhile, is the next person down the organizational depth chart. While the responsibilities vary between whoever holds the position — as opposed to Ziegler his predecessor Nick Caserio seemingly had a hand in everything — the core task remains the same: be Belichick’s right-hand man as far as personnel moves are concerned. Draft, free agency, trade market, you name it.
New England might go “next men up” to replace Ziegler
Ziegler officially filled one position — director of player personnel — but the Patriots might move his responsibilities around to maximize whoever they have on their staff. Three names to watch are scouting consultant Eliot Wolf, college scouting director Matt Groh and senior football advisor Matt Patricia.
The three all played an active role in the front office last offseason. Wolf and Groh were actively involved in pre-draft preparation among other things, while Patricia played a role in free agency. Instead of one person receiving the title associated with Ziegler’s now-former role, the Patriots might just add to the plates of these three men.
Other Patriots staffers might follow Ziegler to Las Vegas
As is the case with every high-ranking person leaving an organization, it might lead to other departures as well. In Ziegler’s case the pro personnel department is one worth keeping an eye on given that he started his Patriots tenure there. Pro scouting director Steve Cargile and pro scout Jordon Hein are possible candidates to move to Las Vegas alongside their former boss, even chances are both — and others — stay put.
The director of player personnel position opens up for a second straight year
Nick Caserio held the Patriots’ director of player personnel title for 13 seasons before his departure to the Houston Texans last year. His successor lasted for only 12 months: with Ziegler off to Las Vegas, the Patriots will need to fill the most prominent position in the front office not held by Bill Belichick yet again.
The Patriots do have some potential candidates, with the aforementioned Wolf, Groh and Patricia all coming to mind. Nonetheless, the stability they had during the Caserio era has not returned with Ziegler.