The New England Patriots’ coaching staff has seen its first departure of the offseason. Tight ends coach Nick Caley, who held the position since 2017, is reportedly leaving the team to join the Los Angeles Rams in the same role.
The writing for Caley’s departure was already on the wall. He unsuccessfully interviewed for team’s the offensive coordinator job, and also was on an expiring contract. The 40-year-old moving on after a total of eight seasons in New England had to be expected.
What exactly does the move mean from a Patriots point of view, though? Let’s find out.
New England loses its longest-tenured offensive assistant...: As noted above, Caley spent the last eight seasons with the Patriots. He originally joined the club as an offensive assistant in 2015, holding that title for one additional season. In 2017, he was promoted to tight ends coach and has filled that position ever since.
With him now gone, the title of longest-tenured assistant coach on the offensive side of the ball goes to Troy Brown (wide receivers) and Tyler Hughes (offensive assistant).
...and is now up to 100 percent turnover since 2019: Caley was the last member of the Patriots’ offensive staff to join the team before the 2020 offseason, when both Brown and Hughes were added. This means that the team has now fully turned over its staff over the course of three years.
Coaching continuity continues to be a strength for the Patriots on defense, but that is very much not the case on the other side of the ball.
Will Lawing will be the frontrunner to replace Caley: The Patriots appear to have their next tight ends coach on board already. Will Lawing, who was reportedly hired last week, has experience coaching the position: he did so under then-head coach Bill O’Brien with the Houston Texans from 2019 to 2020.
O’Brien, of course, joined New England as its new offensive coordinator in late January. Lawing is a long-time assistant of his, with the two going all the way back to 2013. The 37-year-old taking over would make sense, especially since no official title has been announced just yet.
If the Patriots do opt to go a different route, they might look at Tyler Hughes. As noted above, he has served as an offensive assistant since 2020. At the East-West Shrine Bowl, however, Hughes served as tight ends coach with Caley absent.
Two big question marks remains on the offensive staff: The Patriots entered the offseason with several seemingly open spots on the offensive side of the ball. Two have already been filled so far: Bill O’Brien will take over as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. With the future of Nick Caley now also addressed, that leaves two positions unoccupied: tight ends coach and offensive line coach.
As noted above, Lawing or Hughes should be seen as frontrunners for the former gig. The latter, meanwhile, could go to current Buffalo Bills assistant O-line coach Ryan Wendell or the Patriots’ own Billy Yates.