Besides making news last week for moving on from Bill Belichick after 24 years, the Patriots made more headlines the following day when it was announced that Jerod Mayo would become the 15th head coach in the franchise's history.
Because it was such a quick transition from a legendary head coach who was incredibly integral in the dynasty over two decades, many questioned why Robert Kraft would make the decision so quickly and bypass the interview process for outside candidates. How the team felt about Jerod Mayo and his potential to be a future coach was well known, but most believed it was something to happen in a few years, not in 2024.
However, according to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, the plan was in place for quite some time, even long before the contract extension Mayo signed last offseason.
“They gave Mayo a contract last year, to stop him from interviewing for the Panthers’ job, that laid out a clear succession plan, with language allowing for the Patriots to skip a drawn-out search process and simply put him in place. But it wasn’t the first time the Krafts had spoken to Mayo about it. They’d told him, and others, as far back as two years ago that if Belichick were to have to leave abruptly for any reason, he’d be the guy they’d put in charge.”
The exact details of the extension were never truly revealed, other than knowing the move was to ensure Mayo remained with the Patriots for years to come, hence the timing of it. But how long that meant or anything else written in the contract was never revealed, so hearing that a succession plan was included is significant but not surprising.
The most shocking part of the whole thing is the alleged reason Kraft made sure to include the steps for Mayo to become the next head coach.
"If Belichick were to have to leave abruptly for any reason, he'd be the guy in charge."
Maybe all the rumors filtering out of New England since Belichick announced his departure aren't all inaccurate. If Kraft didn't have any sort of inkling that the head coach may move on, whether by his own decision or not, why would that be in writing in Mayo's contract?
That makes it seem like there was trouble in paradise long before it was reported. And at the same time, it proves even further how much belief and support there is behind Mayo, which is somewhat comforting for all those fans who are a bit iffy about his seemingly quick promotion.