The late-night news drop of Bill O'Brien becoming Ohio State's next offensive coordinator was a bit of a shock to Patriots fans, as he was expected to return for the 2024 season. Despite the apparent struggles had by the offense, some of which could be put on the former head coach's shoulders, the idea of having a fourth offensive coordinator in four years seemed potentially worse than keeping O'Brien for the remainder of his contract.
It was another position that Jerod Mayo didn't necessarily have to address, but now he will be looking for O'Brien's replacement among the many other roles that need to be filled this offseason.
Besides the initial surprise of the announcement, the most common reaction was questioning how his exit came about. O'Brien was reportedly under contract for at least one more season, while some reporters said it was two, and with Bill Belichick gone, it appeared as though O'Brien would stay. But clearly, something changed, which either made the team want to completely makeover the staff, or he decided it was time to move on already.
Given that Mayo would likely want to hire his own staff, that was the immediate assumption. However, the Boston Sports Journal's Greg Bedard is reporting that's not the case, claiming O'Brien wanted out due to the uncomfortable environment from last season and not living up to what he was promised upon his return.
“A team source told me that O’Brien and the Patriots were facing off a bit, that neither side was really interested in continuing the relationship but the Patriots were open to it depending on O’Brien.”
Because speculation has run rampant since Belichick announced he was leaving the team nearly two weeks ago, it has been reported that New England wasn't a positive place to be last season. Between the alleged spiteful late benching of Mac Jones from the head coach and O'Brien spatting with Belichick to Adrian Klemm getting into a shouting match over the lack of focus on improving the offensive line, Foxboro was a mess behind the scenes.
Bedard continued reiterating that point, revealing what happened the night O'Brien was announced to leave the team. He alleged there was communication between the two sides about keeping him, but his experience last year was enough to make him want out of town for good.
“On Wednesday night, another team source confirmed that O’Brien wanted out but the two sides were doing a dance on whether or not the Patriots would be required to pay the final two years of O’Brien’s contract. ‘They don’t want to pay, but I could see Billy saying, ‘You brought me back here, and this is your fault – you’re paying.’ And he’d be totally right.'”
It's not a good look for the once desirable place for free agents to sign and up-and-coming coaches to go to, but hopefully, with Mayo in charge and a possible new general manager on the way, things will be a lot smoother moving forward, especially with the number of positions that need to be filled before next season.