Former Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, now in the same position under Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots, was deemed a winner in NFL free agency by the Mile High Report’s Nick Canzoneri.
Canzoneri sees the Patriots bringing in receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, running back James Robinson, and tight end Mike Gesicki as a win for O’Brien, who is back for his second stint in Foxborough.
“Familiar face Bill O’Brien is now the play caller in New England and to make sure this offense does not have a repeat of last year, they are bringing in more talent for O’Brien to work with,” Canzoneri wrote. “Belichick and company have decided to bring in pass catchers Mike Gesicki and JuJu Smith-Schuster into the fold, joining a receiving core of DeVante Parker, Hunter Henry, and second-round speedster Tyquan Thornton.”
As Canzoneri notes, the Patriots have been aggressive in looking to add a star receiver and may not be done adding talent through trades, free agency, or the draft.
“The Patriots have been very aggressive this free agency as they are heavily targeting other receiving weapons like DeAndre Hopkins and Jerry Jeudy,” Canzoneri wrote. “Be on the lookout for the Patriots to take a wide out with their 14th pick as well.”
J.J. Watt Denies Star Receiver Won’t Play for Bill O’Brien
Hopkins made a point to Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bishop to reveal that he had no relationship with O’Brien during the six years the two spent together in Houston from 2014-2020 in a piece published on April 21, 2020.
“There was no relationship,” Hopkins said. “Make sure you put that in there. There’s not a lot to speak about.”
That inevitably resurfaced this offseason when Hopkins’ name was tied to New England. J.J. Watt went on the Pat McAfee Show on March 17 to dispel the notion Hopkins wouldn’t want to play with O’Brien.
“I think Hop is a smart guy,” Watt said. “He thinks through a lot of things and I also think that Bill is [a smart guy too] … I don’t think it’s a situation where it would be like, ‘Oh no, you can’t work with him,’. I think Hop is very smart and good from that standpoint where he’s able to sit down and think through, talk through a situation and amend things.”
Bill O’Brien ‘Hit it Off’ With New Patriots Tight End
The recently-signed Gesicki and O’Brien weren’t at Penn State during the same time, but they did meet in 2013 when the coach was trying to recruit the tight end to Happy Valley.
According to StateCollege.com’s Mike Poorman, the two hit it off. At least Gisecki told Poorman as much during his pre-NFL draft process in 2018.
“It was cool meeting with Coach O’Brien,” Gesicki told Poorman at the 2018 Senior Bowl. “Obviously, I had the opportunity to get to know him during the recruiting process, and committed to him, and had those meetings back when I was in high school.”
The two reunite in 2023 after O’Brien met his family and spoke to him depth over a decade ago.
“Coach O’Brien already knows me,” Gesicki said. “He knew me in high school and had met my parents (Michael and Donna, who traveled to Mobile for the game). We talked X’s and O’s. We talked about my film, and the potential that I have and where they see I would play, and at what position.”