Patriots Already Have ‘Contractual Succession Plan’ to Replace Bill Belichick: Report

Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick

Getty Robert Kraft and the New England Patriots already have a "contractual succession plan" for replacing Bill Belichick as head coach.

Mutually parting ways with Bill Belichick won’t leave the New England Patriots scrambling to find a replacement. Not when the franchise already has a “firm, contractual succession plan” involving inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo.

Mayo remains a “strong candidate” to be Belichick’s successor, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The latter reported there’s “no need to go through the lengthy hiring process” because the Patriots wrote a Mayo plan “in a prior contract & communicated it to the NFL.”

Rapoport also detailed how “there is precedent” for this kind of arrangement: “The #Ravens did it with GM Eric DeCosta, the #Colts did it with Jim Caldwell, and the #Seahawks did it with Jim Mora.”

The exact wording for the verbal framework underpinning this kind of succession plan was relayed by Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald. He provided an “excerpt from the NFL’s anti-tampering policy, per a spokesperson.”

It read: “Contract may include an agreement to become the club’s next head coach, provided the agreement is filed with the League office at the time is signed and occurs prior to the season in which the vacancy occurs.”

What’s important about this is how it means the Patriots won’t have to go through the process of interviewing other candidates if owner Robert Kraft decides Mayo is the choice. That’s significant because it would allow Mayo to be promoted quickly.

As Rapoport told NFL Total Access, “the Patriots would not have to go through a lengthy process, would not have to fulfil the Rooney Rule, not have to do the other DEI obligations of every other team.”

Rapoport did note the decision to make Mayo head coach has “not been fully decided as of now.” Yet, the 37-year-old could be elevated “sooner, rather than later,” thanks to the contract clause.

As indications go, this is a strong one the Patriots are considering replacing Belichick with one of his top lieutenants. Somebody who both played and coached within a system the franchise has operated under for almost a quarter of a century.

Jerod Mayo’s Maintaining Status as Bill Belichick’s Obvious Successor

Mayo has long been considered the “logical successor” to Belichick. He even has the approval of franchise greats like three-time Super Bowl winner Ty Law.

It was no surprise then that Mayo quickly emerged as the favorite to replace Belichick when news of the latter’s exit broke on Thursday, January 11.

Mayo’s relative inexperience may concern some, but others compare him to Sean McVay, who became head coach of the Los Angeles Rams at just 31. If the outside consensus is Mayo’s too raw to assume the hot seat Belichick occupied since 2000, the feeling within the locker room is different.

A more positive sentiment was obvious when’s Mark Daniels spoke with several Patriots players earlier this month. Among them, linebacker Mack Wilson dubbed Mayo a “players’ coach.” Safety Jabrill Peppers offered similar praise, “He’s a players coach. Fiery, fun guy.”

Mayo’s more friendly approach would be welcome relief after years of Belichick’s gruff demeanour. The ultimate test, though, would be Mayo’s ability to gameplan as well as Belichick.

Fortunately, at least one member of the Patriots roster is already confident Mayo can handle the X’s and O’s.

Jerod Mayo Credited With Scheme Knowledge Necessary to Be a Head Coach

One of the strongest endorsements of Mayo came following a 27-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 17. Defensive lineman Deatrich Wise Jr. gave Mayo credit for crafting a scheme that stifled Pro-Bowl quarterback Josh Allen, per Karen Guregian of

Wise said, “It’s a big testament to Mayo. He gets us ready every day. You know what Josh Allen wants to do. He’s a playmaker, so he wants the ball in his hands for the most part … we knew what he was going to do. We knew the formations they were going to run during the game.”

Preparing players to outthink the opposition was a Belichick trademark. It sounds as though he’s passed the trait on to the assistant who played middle linebacker for him for eight seasons.

That’s a positive, but Mayo’s familiarity with the Belichick way could also be a negative. After all, the Belichick-led process just yielded four-straight losing seasons, culminating in 2023’s dismal 4-13 finish.

The record shows a fresh start is needed, while keeping things even remotely the same prompts the question, “why get rid of Bill?”

Jerod Mayo Would Be ‘Very Different’ to Bill Belichick

The question was put to NBCS Boston’s Phil Perry by NFL Network’s Steve Wyche, per the latter’s colleague James Palmer. Perry’s response portrayed clear differences between Mayo and Belichick: “Jerod Mayo, if you know Jerod Mayo, couldn’t be any more different than Bill Belichick, personality-wise.”

Perry predicted Mayo would offer a “very, very different person, a different coaching style. And I would say even a different approach to modern football.”

The Patriots could use some mondernizing after so long following the Belichick blueprint. Mayo might provide it, while also maintaining valuable continuity for the core talents still on the roster.

That’s a potentially powerful combination Kraft may find too appealing to ignore as he targets a swift rebuild for the post-Belichick Patriots.