Last week, the Patriots revealed in a memo that they were preparing to interview offensive coordinator candidates as soon as this past Monday.
On Wednesday morning, NFL Insider Ian Rapoport shared the list of who New England had on the docket for the vacant position, including their request for a Vikings staff member.
Keenan McCardell is a former NFL receiver who began his playing career in 1991. Initially drafted by Washington in the 12th round, he never took the field for Cleveland, as he spent the season on injured reserve. After he was cut, McCardell signed with the Browns in 1992, joining the team during Bill Belichick’s tenure as head coach.
He last played for the Redskins in 2007 but jumped around the league during that time. After accomplishing a 16-year career, McCardell totaled 883 receptions for 11,373 yards and 63 touchdowns in 209 games played. And three years later, he returned to Washington, joining the staff as a wide receivers coach.
Since then, McCardell has coached at the University of Maryland (2014-2015), the Jacksonville Jaguars (2017-2020), and the Vikings (2021-present). Besides his ties to Belichick from his playing days, he’s developed a solid reputation coaching receivers, most notably Justin Jefferson and K.J. Osborn. Although Jefferson was drafted before McCardell’s hiring, how incredible the receiver has played during the last two seasons cannot be overstated.
More impressive is the development of Osborn since working with McCardell. Osborn spent most of his rookie season playing (unsuccessfully) on special teams. In danger of being cut, McCardell’s coaching helped the young receiver be implemented more into the offensive game plan, where he is now on the cusp of becoming the team’s WR2 with Adam Thielen’s future in the balance.
Over the last two seasons, Osborn has totaled 110 receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Because the Patriots are amidst an offensive overhaul, McCardell’s work with young receivers would greatly benefit the team, making it no surprise that Belichick would be interested in interviewing him.
The other confirmed interviewee is New England’s own tight ends coach, Nick Caley. Described as an up-and-coming head coach candidate by NFL Network this past season, Caley has been with the Patriots since 2015. Josh McDaniels tried to poach him away when he left to join the Raiders early last year, but he was denied that opportunity for unknown reasons.
Caley was a favorite to become the offensive coordinator in McDaniels’ absence, but that never came to fruition as Matt Patricia was handed the play-calling duties. In addition, it was reported that because his contract is expiring at the end of this league year, Belichick refrained from giving him the position due to the possibility of Caley remaining with the team for only the remainder of his contract.
Given the long-term implications that would have on Mac Jones and the offense, it appeared as a good decision at the time. However, it also begged the question; if he was a qualified candidate, especially one from within the organization already, why not give him the job along with a contract extension?
Regardless, Caley is said to be interviewed on Wednesday for Patricia’s former position. Further details regarding McCardell or Bill O’Brien’s interviews have yet to be revealed.