Tom E. Curran

Self-aware Jerod Mayo preaches patience with Patriots' rebuild

The Patriots' new head coach knows he has his work cut out for him.

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ORLANDO – Few people want to hear it. Even fewer really want to accept it. But the Patriots probably won’t be “good” for a while.

You don’t like that fact? Understandable. You get used to living your fan’s life a certain way. It’s not easy to come to grips with waking up in Siberia. But that’s kind of where New England is right now.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither were the dynastic Patriots, even though it seemed like they were, going from 8-8 to 5-11 to three Super Bowls in four seasons from 1999 to 2004.

Rome also didn’t crumble all at once and neither did the dynastic Patriots, who sank slowly almost imperceptibly from 2019 to 2023 to where they are now: a team coming off a 4-13 season with a first-year head coach, a first-year de facto GM and no quarterback.

This ain’t Pompeii. There are signs of life. But it’s going to take a minute. And that was the backbeat to Jerod Mayo’s 30-minute sitdown with the media on Monday morning.

🔊 Patriots Talk Podcast: Jerod Mayo preaches patience and talks options for Patriots at No. 3 | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Fixing. Building. Developing. Creating the right support systems. All were facets of what Mayo discussed.

But one answer that really stuck out to me related to Calvin Ridley, the Jaguars wideout who really had little interest in coming to New England despite the Patriots' overtures.

“There were various reasons why guys didn't sign with us,” Mayo explained. “The unknown is scary for a lot of people. And I would say even in our building right now, it's still unknown. Like, will I be a good head coach? I don't know, hopefully. I think I can be.

“Will Eliot (Wolf) be a good GM or whatever he is in his role? I don't know. We'll see what happens with that. But look, it's gonna be a process. You (media) guys even sitting around this table, there will be times that you had to ask me hard questions. Right now we're 0-0, we're still in the honeymoon phase. You guys are throwing up these softballs. But I understand what I'm getting myself into, as we continue to go down this trail.

“One thing I would say as you go through the draft, you want to get guys that are magnets. You know, I played with the ultimate magnet in Tom Brady, where guys wanted to play for Tom with Tom and with the team, right? And so it kind of gets skewed and now it's the other end of the spectrum. What pieces do we have to attract those outside guys? And once again, if we draft a guy, you're coming here. So that's that has to be our philosophy as we continue to put this thing together.”

A-plus for self-awareness. But Mayo knows that, right now, the forecast calls for pain.

And while he gave answers on Monday, he knows he doesn’t really have answers. Everything remains very much abstract and on-paper until the Patriots figure out who’s playing for them. Beginning with quarterback.

What does Mayo want? He didn’t start with pocket mobility or “makes all the throws." He started with what the last guy – Mac Jones – got increasingly less effective at. Doing the right thing.

“My No. 1 thing is a good decision-maker,” Mayo said. “That's first and foremost. And I will say one of the things that often gets lost is just competitiveness and toughness. And so you see some of the top quarterbacks in the league, like, those guys get smacked and get right back up, you know, their offensive line to help them up. I think that is very important when you're kind of scouting this position.”

Drake Maye, who’s more likely than not to be sitting there at No. 3, is billed as being mentally and physically tough. The decision-making. A work in progress. But he’s 21. Same with J.J. McCarthy and Michael Penix, the top-five quarterbacks in this draft (with Penix a bit behind the other four).

Mayo didn’t shy at all from the talk of trading down if the Patriots don’t love him more than what they’re being offered to move down.

“If we take a quarterback at three that means we are convicted that this player is really the future of this organization,” said Mayo. “There are multiple (positions) on this team as a whole that we want to fill those holes. If you can gather more picks, that definitely helps you out."

Earlier in the conversation, Mayo said, “We sit at a very enviable spot at number three where we can take someone or if someone offers a ‘bag’ as we would say, a lot of first-round picks, we definitely have to talk about those things as we continue to put together this team. You said it, there are holes on this team but also but I would also say there will be people available going forward to fill those roles.”

Given the bag the Patriots could potentially get from, say, Minnesota – a swap of firsts, an additional first-rounder and another first-rounder next year – they’d have to decide if Maye on his own is better than a tackle taken with the 11th pick, a wide receiver taken 23rd and whatever they’d do with the second first-rounder next year.

That’s … a lot to pass up. Especially if they were able to take the first-rounder in 2025, combine it with their own and scoot up for a quarterback of their own.

Jerod Mayo spoke on Monday morning at the NFL owners meeting on a wide-array of topics, including the 3rd overall pick, free-agency, and more

Going back to 2012, the Patriots have swung and missed too often in the first three rounds of the draft. They have to start making contact. Mayo hears the “you got nothing and I don’t like it!” howls after the Patriots' meager free agency haul. But he also underscored that free agency really isn’t the key.   

For Patriots fans, look, I understand the frustration,” he said. “I understand the expectation that has been really built over the last 20 years. But at the same time, hopefully the fans understand that we're trying to build this the right way. And we're trying to bring in pieces that we think are for the long term. I think there's a combination between bringing people in for the short term, but also you have to think long term, that's always the hard thing to do.

"I would just ask Patriots fans for patience. Once again, there will be players that hit the wire, free agents, guys that are explosive, whatever you want to say, there will be guys in the draft, there will be guys after the draft. So just sit back and kind of, you know, let us do our job going forward.” 

They’ve definitely got their work cut out for them.

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