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Questions surrounding Patriots' potential hire of Michael Lombardi

Posted by Erik Frenz  February 14, 2014 04:35 PM

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20130118__1-michaellombardi_400.jpgAccording to multiple reports, recently fired Browns general manager Michael Lombardi could be headed for a reunion with former colleague Bill Belichick with the Patriots.

Nothing has been confirmed by the team yet, but where there's smoke, there's usually fire with these reports.

Immediately, several questions come to mind with regard to Lombardi's potential new position in the Patriots' front office — which is ambiguously structured to begin with.



What will his role be?

As of yet, Lombardi's role remains unknown, but he would probably be joining the team's front office as a personnel evaluator in some capacity. Right now, the Patriots' personnel department is led by Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio. It's a thin group at the top of the Patriots' personnel department.

We do know some roles he will not be filling.

The Patriots never replaced senior football advisor Floyd Reese when he left the team last year, so the Patriots could be looking for his replacement, but it's likely not Lombardi. Reese acted as a liaison of sorts, representing the Patriots' interests when negotiating contracts with player representatives. That role doesn't look like a fit for Lombardi, who has been a talent evaluator for much of his NFL career.

The Patriots never truly replaced their vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli when he left for Kansas City, though his role is most closely carried out by Caserio. It's unlikely that the Patriots would name Lombardi the general manager — if anyone's going to get that job, it would likely be Caserio, who has drawn interest from other NFL teams with GM vacancies. Lombardi could fill a role beneath Caserio, but whether that's as a consultant or in a more defined role remains to be seen.



What sort of dynamic will he bring to the room?

Lombardi has been in the personnel evaluation business for a long time, and his connections to Belichick are well-known (the two worked together from 1991-1995 with the Browns). Lombardi's return to Cleveland marked his first job in the league since 2007.

Without knowing the dynamic of the relationship between Lombardi and Belichick, it's fair to wonder what the room will be like with Lombardi in it. Lombardi's close relationship with Belichick may make him the most qualified to challenge Belichick's opinion, and the Patriots head coach is always looking for ways to break up the groupthink that can often bog an organization down.

It's hard to tell exactly what dynamic he'd bring to the table without knowing what his role will be, but it's clear that Belichick trusts Lombardi's opinion.



What does it mean?

A lot of this depends on the answer to the first question. One thing we know Lombardi's presence means is another voice in the room, regardless of his eventual role with the team.

He served as a writer and analyst in his time away from the game from 2008-2012, but he never got completely away from the game. According to former Boston Globe NFL writer Greg Bedard, it was "one of the worst-kept secrets" around the NFL that Lombardi was acting as a consultant for the Patriots in his five years out of the league.

In that sense, signing Lombardi would just formalize a relationship that existed for years.

However, this move could be seen as an insurance policy in the event that Caserio bolts for a new team after the 2014 season. When your team is as successful as the Patriots, your executives and coaches are going to be sought-after commodities for other teams.

With so much changing in the Patriots' coaching staff and front office these days, it seems nothing is out of the question.




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About the author

Erik Frenz delivers analysis of the biggest news with the Patriots, including insight into the AFC East and New England's biggest rivals from a Patriots perspective. Erik is an interactive writer who engages his audience in his posts’ comments sections and on Twitter. Readers are encouraged to share their thoughts and ask questions. More »

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