Eliot Wolf reportedly will have final say in the New England Patriots' front office, but he'll have plenty of help -- including from an intriguing new addition.
Former NFL fullback and University of Miami general manager of football operations Alonzo Highsmith is set to join the Patriots' front office as a "senior personnel executive," per ESPN's Mike Reiss. Highsmith has an impressive resume that includes stints as a senior personnel executive with the Green Bay Packers (2012 to 2017) and vice president of player personnel with the Cleveland Browns (2018 to 2019). He also won an NCAA championship as a player at the University of Miami, where he overlapped with future Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin.
Irvin joined 98.5 The Sports Hub's Zolak & Bertrand from Super Bowl Radio Row in Las Vegas on Friday and explained why Highsmith is a great addition for the Patriots who should work very well with new head coach Jerod Mayo.
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"Zo is such a great dude and a great man that understands the game and understands talent," Irvin said. "Let me tell you what you're getting. I was with (Patriots owner Robert) Kraft yesterday talking about Jerod Mayo -- that combination working together is going to be crazy, because they both think alike.
"Zo is such a hard worker. Alonzo Highsmith was one of the guys I looked up to when I came into college as, how do you learn how to work? It was Alonzo Highsmith talking about what it takes to be a champion."
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Irvin believes Highsmith's strong work ethic will serve him well alongside Mayo, another former player who prided himself on hard work and relating to his teammates. Mayo has carried that relatability into his coaching career, and Irvin sees the new head coach bringing a new style of leadership to New England that will be very different from the Bill Belichick regime.
"(Patriots edge defender) Matthew Judon was talking about Jerod Mayo and he said this, which I thought was fascinating," Irvin explained. "He said, 'Let me tell you about Jerod. He's always been this way as a player and as a coach: When he comes to you, he always has something to look at, and he'll say, listen, I want you to know it doesn't matter who's wrong or right. It just matters that we see this the same way.' He opens up a conversation with players like that. That's different from Bill Belichick."
Irvin thinks that difference will do the Patriots some good after a 4-13 season under Belichick in 2023. And the more new voices New England can add this offseason, the better -- especially a voice like Highsmith's, if you ask Irvin.
"In this new era of players, they want a word in, they want a say, and Jerod Mayo will give them some say," Irvin said. "Him and Alonzo together? That's gonna be a dangerous combination."