It didn't take long for the Patriots to find their next head coach, announcing the hiring of Jerod Mayo just 24 hours after breaking the news about Bill Belichick's departure. Although it may seem quick to most, mainly since they chose to forgo the interviewing process, it was a move that was expected in recent days, as revealed by several NFL and Patriots insiders.
Because of the memo sent out by the team last offseason regarding Mayo's stance with the franchise, it was revealed there was a succession plan written into his contract. That allowed the Patriots to skip requesting interviews with external candidates and immediately jump into a new era.
There are plenty of arguments against moving so quickly, but the Krafts clearly believe he is the right guy for the job and recognize his value to the franchise and how desirable he is to those around the league.
Mayo had been a consistent target by teams needing a new head coach. He became a popular candidate last year, which forced the Patriots to show their cards to keep him around long-term. They moved swiftly to retain a former first-round pick widely viewed as the hottest upcoming head coach in the league, much like Sean McVay was prior to his hiring with the Rams.
And now, New England has their head coach far before the start of free agency and the complete immersion into the 2024 NFL draft. It gives them plenty of time to focus on their search for the next general manager and determine who is the right fit to fill out Mayo's staff, which may see the return of a few more former players.
Don't be surprised if more legendary Patriots join Jerod Mayo's staff
With Bill Belichick expected to continue coaching and several of the longtime staff expected to follow him wherever he goes, there will be plenty of new coaches set to join Mayo's team for the upcoming season. One of those could be Dont'a Hightower, whom Mayo suggested he would try to convince for a job just last year when speaking to reporters about his aspirations to be a head coach.
Hightower took to Twitter/X and responded to the video, seemingly implying he may be interested in making that transition.
"I think Hightower would be a phenomenal coach. So, we’ll see. When I get a chance to run my own ship, I’ll try to recruit him."
Now that the opportunity has presented itself, it will be interesting to see if it actually comes to fruition and if it will ultimately lead to more former players moving into coaching.
One name to watch could be Matthew Slater, who presumably suited up for the last time just last week. If he has any thoughts about becoming a coach at some point, perhaps working alongside his former teammate would be a tempting idea. It would ultimately benefit the special teams, who ranked 13th last season, as Slater will go down as one of the best of the third team in NFL history.
On top of that, for morale purposes, he has become the voice of the locker room during his time with the team. Maintaining that continuity behind the scenes would be a great start to a new era in New England, building upon the already overwhelming support for Mayo as a "player's coach."
And now, not too long ago, a new name has been thrown into the mix. Former running back and Super Bowl 51 hero James White responded to a fan's inquiry about him coming out of retirement to become the new RB coach in New England.
White responded with a curious emoji, which could be interpreted in many ways. However, it wasn't a direct confirmation or denial, so maybe we should also keep an eye on him to return to Foxborough.
It will be fascinating to see if Mayo's hire will trigger a ripple effect of more former player hires other than those speculated about. It would be a complete staff makeover, which most believe has been needed for quite some time.