Recovered from the release of that Patriots statement yet?
Here’s what we can tell you about the Jerod Mayo-related portion of Thursday night’s surprise: The best way to look at this is to think back to what happened with Josh McDaniels in early 2018.
The Patriots had a coveted assistant coach, who was sought after as a head coach, who impressed, who ended up agreeing to take a job elsewhere. Thanks in part to some uncertainty in Indianapolis for McDaniels, the Patriots were able to swoop in at the 11th hour and offer their offensive coordinator a deal that would entice him to stay.
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Learning from what happened then, and understanding that Bill Belichick isn’t necessarily always a firehose of information with assistants about future plans, the Kraft family took a different approach this time around.
They understood, as we reported earlier in the week, that Mayo wanted to be in New England. They wanted him in New England. They went on the offensive and made Mayo the kind of offer they knew they had to make five years ago to keep their most valuable of Belichick’s assistants.
New England Patriots
Thursday’s statement was a way for the Patriots to tell the rest of the league: This is our guy ... Hands off.
The relationship between Mayo and the Kraft family, it’s safe to say, is strong enough that ownership would never want to put pressure on Mayo -- or hinder future opportunities for him in any way -- by releasing a statement like this week’s without his approval. It’s my understanding that Belichick did sign off on the language within the statement.
As far as the Mayo portion of the statement is concerned, the note that the team plans to keep him "long term" is significant.
Mayo’s long-term goal is to be a head coach. And, again, because his family has well-established roots in Massachusetts, he would like to stay in Foxboro. It would stand to reason then that his dream job would be to be head coach of the Patriots.
Ownership likely wouldn’t be able to tell Mayo when that opportunity would arise given Belichick’s presence with the club. But ownership could give Mayo an indication that, when that door does open up, he’ll have every opportunity to walk through it.
That kind of nod, in my opinion, would be worth more to Mayo than any bump in title. While a title change could still occur, I don’t believe it’s a prerequisite for Mayo staying. He’s already the leader of the defense, running meetings on that side of the ball. But as we reported earlier this week, developmental opportunity matters to Mayo. Professional growth matters to Mayo.
While nothing is yet set in stone and Mayo could still take a head-coaching interview with the Panthers -- he declined to interview for the Browns defensive coordinator job Friday -- Thursday’s statement feels like a signal that ownership has let Mayo know that they’ll be happy to help him experience the kind of professional growth he covets. Eventually. And with the team he’s never truly wanted to leave.