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New England Patriots seem to be preparing Jerod Mayo to become Bill Belichick’s successor

The New England Patriots took the unusual step this offseason of publicly announcing an extension with assistant coach Jerod Mayo, promoting him to a more prominent role and preventing him from leaving for another job. Now, there are increasing signs of exactly what the Patriots’ plan is.

Mayo, age 37, was drafted by New England with the 10th pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-1 linebacker became a captain on the Patriots’ defense, with his play solidifying one of the best NFL defenses and leading to a Super Bowl title.

  • Jerod Mayo career stats: 536 solo tackles, 30 tackles for loss, 28 QB hits, 11 sacks, 19 PDs

Injuries derailed the latter stage of Mayo’s career. He retired after his age-29 season following another stint on injured reserve. While it marked the end of his playing career

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“There have been very few players in my career that I’ve had the opportunity to coach that I’d say had more of an impact on a team than Jerod has from day one, which is unusual. From the first day he walked in the facility, which was his pre-draft visit, after we drafted him in 2008, he’s been a pleasure to coach, a great addition to our team, both on and off the field.”

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick on Jerod Mayo following his retirement

Just a few years after his retirement, Bill Belichick hired Mayo as the Patriots’ linebackers coach. Since returning to New England, he’s played an instrumental role in the team’s defensive preparation, helping inside linebackers like Kahlani Tavai, Ja’Whaun Bentley and Dont’a Hightower be instrumental pieces to the Patriots’ defense.

Mayo started receiving head-coaching interviews in 2021, with Tom Pelissero of NFL Network naming him as one of the rising young coaches in the NFL. In his interview with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2021, Mayo reportedly ‘blew them out of the water‘ with his leadership, mind and overall presence during the lengthy interview.

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New England quickly recognized that Mayo was becoming one of the most coveted assistant coaches in the NFL. As the 37-year-old began fielding interview requests for both head coach and defensive coordinator vacancies, the Patriots released a public statement that contract negotiations with Mayo were underway and he would stay with the franchise for years to come.

Now, amid circulating rumors involving Belichick’s long-term future and talk about his likely successor, it appears as if New England is preparing Mayo to eventually take over.

In his latest post covering the team, Patriots reporter Mike Reiss covered Mayo’s offseason. ESPN’s top reporter for New England provided insight into Mayo’s role with the team after months of the franchise providing no details on what their assistant coach would be doing in 2023.

Mayo provided a few answers for reporters on his decision to stay with New England. He revealed that he’ll stay with the Patriots ‘for the next few years’ and acknowledged that his role with the organization is expanding.

“Look, I’ll be working with the defense again, with the linebackers again. But it’s pretty fluid as far as, let’s call it the classes [and] management stuff. … I’m excited to continue to learn new things — not only X’s and O’s, that’s only a small part of it. I’m just trying to be a sponge and learn as much as I can when I’m in those meetings I’m not normally in; I look forward to learning from Bill as far as all the off-the-field stuff.”

Jerod Mayo on his role with the New England Patriots coaching staff in 2023

Mayo’s expanded role goes beyond the meetings he is involved in on a weekly basis. He also told Reiss that he is now talking to more people, gaining insight from scouts, the Patriots’ salary cap specialists and staffers focused on research.

“I have a lot to learn and that’s another reason why I wanted to be here because I feel like we do it right.”

Jerod Mayo on why he stayed with the New England Patriots (via ESPN’s Mike Reiss)

While owner Robert Kraft is firmly committed to Belichick right now, especially with Bill O’Brien returning as offensive coordinator, it’s clear New England is at least preparing for the future. Whether Mayo is the next Patriots’ head coach or receives his opportunity with another NFL team, the experiences and knowledge he gains from the 2023 season will have a strong influence on his future as a head coach.

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