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What Thursday’s surprise announcement means for the Patriots coaching staff

New England sent out an unconventional press release on Thursday night.

New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The New England Patriots have their own way of doing things, and Thursday was more proof of that. In a surprising press release, the organization announced its plans to interview candidates for the offensive coordinator position. Additionally, the Patriots revealed that they are in contract negotiations with linebackers coach Jerod Mayo.

Given that the Patriots usually like to play their cards close to the vest, those announcements are pretty much unprecedented. What exactly do they mean, though? Let’s look at each one of them in a bit more detail.

Patriots are looking for an offensive coordinator

Matt Patricia, Joe Judge will no longer lead the offense: The Patriots’ announcement on Thursday essentially confirmed prior reports that the team will be shaking up its offensive staff, starting with assistant coaches Matt Patricia and Joe Judge. The pair was chosen to lead the unit in 2022 — the first season after long-time coordinator Josh McDaniels — but the results were disappointing throughout the year.

This has, in a way, forced the Patriots’ hand to make changes. The belief now is that both Patricia and Judge will be reassigned to other positions within the staff, while a “real” coordinator will be brought in to lead the unit and help quarterback Mac Jones regain his rookie form.

New England will be casting a wide net rather than promote internally: The Patriots have usually promoted from within when moving assistant coaches into coordinator (or coordinator-like) roles. Thursday’s announcement, however, appears to tease a change of plans: the team will look at several options, not just those available internally.

What they will look like remains to be seen, but New England appears to be open for some outside perspective — something that has not happened in quite some time. Among the most prominent higher-level outside hires that come to mind are offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo in 2014 and special assistant and secondary coach Dom Capers in 2008.

The ‘Rooney Rule’ will need to be satisfied: If the Patriots are indeed looking for a coordinator on the offensive side of the ball, they need to follow the NFL’s rules on making such a hire. This means they have to give external minority candidates an equal chance and invite them to the interview process; at least one such candidate has to be invited.

Those rules are also in place for a quarterbacks coach position, by the way. The NFL changed the rules in that regard shortly after Joe Judge was hired last offseason.

Patriots are trying to extend Jerod Mayo

The Patriots react to Mayo’s interview requests: As of when the press release was made on Thursday, New England had received two interview request for Mayo. The Cleveland Browns want to bring him in as a candidate for defensive coordinator, while the Carolina Panthers have identified him as a potential head coach.

Extending Mayo would on its own not magically eliminate those two potential offers, but it might still have an impact on them — especially considering that...

His job title will likely be subject to change: Mayo joined the Patriots in 2019 as inside linebackers coach and was moved to linebackers coach in 2022. This title means that other teams could poach him to become their coordinator, even though he filled a coordinator-like role alongside fellow assistant coach Steve Belichick for the last few years.

Could it be that he gets the promotion to coordinator in New England? It is possible, but with the younger Belichick still on staff another title might be more realistic. Maybe Mayo become assistant head coach, or another similarly-worded position.

Mayo might still leave if the right offer comes around: There is some speculation whether or not the team trying to sign Mayo to a new deal is a sign of him eventually succeeding Bill Belichick as head coach. That very well could happen, but it appears the primary concern is to keep the coaching staff on defense as stable as possible — especially with another shakeup on the offensive side imminent.

Mayo could still very well take over once Belichick retires, but it seems unlikely that this is the primary concern right now. That is especially true given that two of his sons — Steve and Brian — are on the coaching staff as well.

Accordingly, this might not guarantee Mayo staying around for the long term. If an attractive head-coaching offer comes around, he might still be out the door.