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Is McDaniels a realistic Patriots OC candidate? NFL insider weighs in

Could Josh McDaniels return to New England for a third stint as Patriots OC?

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The New England Patriots still need a new offensive coordinator, but a lot of the top candidates have already taken other jobs.

Two of the candidates still available who reportedly have already interviewed with the Patriots are Nick Caley and Zac Robinson, who are both working under Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay. Caley is the Rams' tight ends coach. He spent eight seasons with the Patriots from 2015 through 2022. Robinson is the Rams' quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator.

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Where does the OC search stand at the moment?

"Quiet. A little bit too quiet, and not in a good way," The Boston Herald's Andrew Callahan said Wednesday on NBC Sports Boston show Boston Sports Tonight. "Offensively, I think this is a little bit of a problem. I want to credit Jeff Howe, who came on my podcast yesterday and said he has spoken to some of the top OC candidates on the market who say that Patriots job is not great.

"And so when you're down to two candidates and one of them has spent eight of his nine seasons in New England as far as coaching in the NFL in Nick Caley, and the other guy has been in the league five years as a coach (Zac Robinson), I think that says it all. The search has only officially been open for four or five days here, so this is the last one Mayo moved on.

"I would just keep one name in mind, and that's Josh McDaniels."

How much is money part of the equation here? Could that be a reason why the Patriots' OC job isn't super attractive? And how much does salary factor into McDaniels potentially being a real candidate?

"That's part of the pitch, right, is the money. The salary. You don't leave an interview without talking salary," Callahan said. "It's also partly why I think McDaniels is a bigger player in this, because he's being paid by Vegas. His contract would've run for another three years. That's a guy who would be cheaper. I'm not saying that's the case, and I don't know Mayo's budget -- all I know is that half the candidates they've interviewed already have other jobs."

While some Patriots fans might want the team to fully move on from the last 20 years and install a brand-new offense that has nothing to do with McDaniels, it should be noted that his track record as an offensive coordinator in New England is pretty strong. He's been a poor NFL head coach, but whether he was coaching Tom Brady, Matt Cassel or Mac Jones, the Patriots offense has performed at a high level with McDaniels in charge.

"I think Mayo is going to want to evolve the offense," Callahan said. "I don't think it's an accident all of these are McVay guys who have interviewed. But when I look at McDaniels and Caley and Robinson, I don't know how you don't consider McDaniels a favorite based on his experience, which is more than the other two combined, the fact that he's developed young quarterbacks, and he's been here and he wants to be here."

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