With the New England Patriots looking for a new offensive coordinator, the future of the current coaching staff on that side of the ball is very much in question. Two assistant coaches in particular are in the spotlight as that process continues to unfold: Matt Patricia and Joe Judge.
The expectation is that neither of them will continue to serve their most recent roles moving forward. Patricia coached the offensive line in 2022 and served as play-caller on that side of the ball; Judge worked as quarterbacks coach.
What the future holds remains to be seen for both of them, but the initial belief was that they might still play a role in the Patriots’ plans even if reassigned to other positions. However, there is another factor at play that might complicate matters: contractual obligations, especially in regards to Patricia’s status.
When he rejoined the Patriots in January 2021, Patricia was still receiving money from his previous employer, the Detroit Lions. The Lions had signed their former head coach to a five-year deal upon initially hiring him in 2018. That deal ran through the 2022 season and continued to do so even when he was no longer coaching the team following his dismissal in November 2020.
Whether or not that impacted New England’s decision to bring him back into the fold is not known, but it would not be the first time the club went down that road. Back in 2014 they hired Mike Lombardi when he was still under contract with the Cleveland Browns; they also brought in Bret Bielema while he was still being compensated by the University of Arkansas four years later.
As NBC Sports’ Tom E. Curran pointed out, both Lombardi and Bielema moved on after their previous contracts officially expired. The same happening in Patricia’s case might also be in the cards:
Interestingly, both Bielema and Lombardi moved on from the Patriots when contracts with their old employers ran out and the Patriots would have to start paying. We’ll see if the same happens with Patricia, whose Lions deal has now expired. I’m hearing he might be on his way out as well.
New England head coach Bill Belichick clearly thinks highly of Patricia (and Joe Judge, for that matter). Seeing him keep his long-time assistant around in some capacity even after what was a disappointing experience in 2022 would therefore not be a surprise.
What all of this shows, however, is that there are several factors at play the Patriots will have to consider — and that the formation of next year’s coaching staff will not be as straight-forward as just moving pieces around.