While the New England Patriots look primed to make changes to their offensive staff, Bill Belichick may have to replace a key coach on the other side of the ball, too.
Widely viewed as one of the NFL’s most promising assistants, Jerod Mayo has officially caught the eye of the Cleveland Browns. And depending on how all parties handle the situation, the former Pro Bowl linebacker could change his job title this offseason.
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Browns have requested permission to interview Mayo for their defensive coordinator vacancy.
“He’s considered a top candidate there,” Rapoport tweeted on January 9.
Mayo would replace Joe Woods, whom the Browns fired just hours after they wrapped up a second straight losing season a day earlier. Coming off a 2021 campaign in which they finished 13th in points allowed and fifth in total yards surrendered, the Browns plummeted to 20th and 14th, respectively.
Meanwhile, Mayo and Steve Belichick oversaw a Patriots defense that finished 11th in points allowed at 21.4 per game. Plus, unlike on offense, New England had several young players make tangible strides, including outside linebacker Josh Uche (11.5 sacks) and safety Kyle Dugger (three defensive touchdowns).
Whether the Patriots grant permission for Mayo to interview with the Browns remains to be seen. But given Belichick’s history of letting assistants such as Josh McDaniels, Joe Judge and Matt Patricia seek opportunities outside the organization, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Mayo take his talents elsewhere.
Does Jerod Mayo See a Brighter Future in Cleveland?
Since Brian Flores left to become head coach of the Miami Dolphins after the 2018 season, Bill Belichick has yet to name an official defensive coordinator. Instead, Mayo and Steve Belichick have teamed up to run the defense — often with positive results.
However, without a clear path to move up the ladder in New England, will Mayo consider working for a different team? Landing the DC title in Cleveland would instantly strengthen his resume, give him more responsibility and ability to create game plans and position him to land a head coaching gig in the future.
Still, Mayo must consider whether leaving the most successful NFL franchise of the last two decades for one that has cycled through a number of big-name coaches and general managers is the best decision for his career.
Furthermore, the 36-year-old may have multiple teams interested in securing his services. The Denver Broncos have already been linked to Mayo, as they must find a permanent replacement for Nathaniel Hackett.
And with Mayo confirming his interest in becoming an NFL head coach, would he consider the DC gig in Cleveland more of a lateral move than a promotion?
Several Patriots Coaches Face Uncertain Futures
In addition to Mayo, the Patriots have a few members of their coaching staff facing uncertain futures with the franchise.
What role will Patricia play in 2023? He struggled in his debut season as an offensive play caller. Given some of Robert Kraft’s comments, the odds of Patricia remaining in charge of calling plays seem slim.
Special teams coordinator Cameron Achord also faces the possibility of being replaced. According to Football Outsiders, the 2022 Patriots finished last in special teams DVOA. Besides having multiple punts blocked, New England allowed three kickoff return touchdowns over the course of an 8-9 season that ended with a 35-23 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
While Belichick may have to look outside the organization to find a capable OC, he could fix New England’s special teams woes by giving Judge the title he held from 2015-19.
And with the way Mac Jones looked this season, putting Judge in charge of coaching special teams instead of quarterbacks seems like a logical choice for 2023.