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Top 5 candidates to eventually replace Bill Belichick as Patriots head coach

Oct 18, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick leaves the field after their loss to the Denver Broncos at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

At 68 years old, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is the second-oldest individual in this position in the NFL, behind Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks. There’s absolutely no telling when the legendary six-time Super Bowl champion head coach will retire.

This is magnified by the fact that New England heads into its Week 14 “Thursday Night Football” matchup with the Los Angeles Rams at 6-6 on the season. Replacing Tom Brady under center has proven to be difficult. The Patriots lack anywhere near the necessary skill-position talent to help Cam Newton under center. In short, the Patriots are not anywhere near the contender we saw during a recently-ended two-decade stint atop the NFL’s hierarchy.

What if Bill Belichick opts to retire following the 2020 season? Perhaps, he gives it one more go. Either way, a time will be coming here soon when the Patriots have to look for a new head coach. Here’s a look at the top-five candidates.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Patriots, check out #GoPats rumors, rankings, and news here.

Patriots replace Bill Belichick with Josh McDaniels

Will the Patriots replace Bill Belichick with Josh McDaniels?
Jan 4, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on the field before their playoff game against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
  • It has seemed for some time now that McDaniels is just waiting in the wings for Bill Belichick to retire. He’s turned down multiple opportunities for a head coach job since leading the Denver Broncos to a disastrous 11-17 mark in 2009 and 2010. Simply put, McDaniels seems to think he will replace Belichick.
  • It makes a lot of sense. Bill Belichick is a defensive-minded coach. McDaniels has been given the reins on offense and continues to produce at a high level calling plays. Prior to this season, McDaniels had led a top-10 scoring offense eight consecutive years.
  • A move of this ilk could potentially coincide with the Patriots looking to add a franchise quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s seen as a darn deep class at that position with BYU’s Zach Wilson being a likely target.

Related: NFL mock draft 2022 – Quarterbacks once again dominant

Patriots keep it in the family, replace Bill Belichick with his son

  • A 33-year-old outside linebackers coach, Steve Belichick has actually called plays on defense for the Patriots at times this season. It’s a clear sign that his father views the young man as a valuable member of his coaching staff.
  • Some might conclude that this would be the NFL’s version of “silver spoons.” That’s fine. There’s more qualified candidates out there. Even then, replacing one Belichick with another could help New England keep with its current environment. It’s something that has been sustainable for the better part of the past two decades.

Related: Trades that could make Patriots top contenders

Patriots hire Doug Pederson to replace Bill Belichick

Could Doug Pederson replace Bill Belichick with the Patriots?
Nov 15, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson looks on from the sideline during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
  • By now, it’s pretty darn clear that Pederson is on his last legs as the Eagles’ head coach. They have lost four consecutive games and sit at 3-8-1 on the season. Pederson’s inability to help recently-benched quarterback Carson Wentz improve under center is a major backstory here.
  • Even then, Pederson is just a few years removed from handing Bill Belichick and the Patriots a loss in Super Bowl LII. It’s a game that saw Nick Foles outplay Tom Brady en route to winning the MVP award. Just think about how crazy that is less than three years later.
  • Still respected around league circles, Pederson did oversee Wentz’s initial success with the Eagles. He has a track record of success. It would be a rather seamless transition for the Pats. Heck, maybe even Wentz joins Pederson with the Patriots.

Related: Patriots playoff scenarios

Patriots go for the home run, hire Lincoln Riley to replace Bill Belichick

Lincoln Riley makes sense as a replacement for Bill Belichick
Sep 26, 2020; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley reacts during the first half against the Kansas State Wildcats at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
  • What we do know is that the 37-year-old Riley is a quarterback guru in the truest sense of the word. Here’s a dude that oversaw Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray earning the Heisman in consecutive seasons before watching Jalen Hurts be a finalist this past year. He’s 43-8 as a college head coach, too.
  • If Riley were to ever consider leaving the amateur ranks for the NFL, replacing Bill Belichick with the Patriots would make the most sense. Whether that happens remains to be seen.

Related: Predicting NFL playoff teams and Super Bowl 2022 winner

From one veteran coach to another

Nick Saban as a potential replacement for Bill Belichick?
Alabama head coach Nick Saban walks to the sidelines after quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was injured against Mississippi State at Davis Wade Stadium on the MSU campus in Starkville, Ms., on Saturday November 16, 2019. Bama1021
  • Nick Saban and Bill Belichick are considered great friends. The two worked together back in the day with the Cleveland Browns. Could the Alabama head coach be an option despite his struggles as the Miami Dolphins head man eons ago? It’s possible.
  • However, it’s more likely these Patriots look for a veteran NFL head coach to replace Bill Belichick once he ultimately decides to call it quits. Rumors suggest that Marvin Lewis is looking to return after a two-year hiatus. A defensive-minded coach in his own right, the transition from Belichick wouldn’t be too steep.
  • Other options include, but are not limited to, Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, Jim Harbaugh and even former Patriots defensive coordinator under Bill Belichick, Matt Patricia. It’s certainly something to keep an eye on.