Patriots bolster staff
Licht returns; O'Shea is added
The Patriots continued to rebuild their coaching staff and front office after an offseason of turnover, making two more hires yesterday. The team officially announced Chad O'Shea as wide receivers coach and brought back onetime assistant director of player personnel Jason Licht as director of pro personnel.
O'Shea, 36, spent the last three seasons as an offensive quality control assistant for the Minnesota Vikings, assisting offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and working with the team's wide receivers coach, who for the last two seasons has been George Stewart.
Last season the Vikings led the NFL with 13 touchdown catches of 20 yards or longer.
The 2009 season will be O'Shea's seventh as an NFL coach. He got his start in Kansas City in 2003 as a volunteer special teams assistant and was promoted to assistant special teams coach for the 2004 and 2005 seasons. A former college quarterback at Marshall and the University of Houston, O'Shea coached in the college ranks for seven seasons and was Houston's wide receivers coach in 1997.
The return of Licht (pronounced Light), who spent four seasons with the Patriots (1999-2002) as a college scout, national scout, and assistant director of personnel, should help offset the loss of Scott Pioli by bringing in another experienced talent evaluator to work with director of player personnel Nick Caserio, who also has the help of senior adviser Floyd Reese.
Licht, 38, spent last season as a personnel executive for the NFC champion Arizona Cardinals, working closely with general manager Rod Graves.
He was the Philadelphia Eagles vice president of player personnel in 2006 and 2007, part of a five-season stint in Philly that began when the Eagles hired him from the Patriots in 2003 to be their assistant director of player personnel.
O'Shea's addition ostensibly fills out coach Bill Belichick's offensive staff.
The Patriots technically still have an opening at offensive coordinator after offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels left to take the head coaching job in Denver. However, new quarterbacks coach Bill O'Brien is expected to fill the coordinator slot - minus the title - with input from Belichick. O'Brien was the team's wide receivers coach last season. On offense, the team also lost tight ends coach Pete Mangurian, who was replaced by coaching assistant Shane Waldron.
O'Shea is the fourth new coach on the Patriots reshuffled staff, which has undergone an extreme makeover this offseason.
He is the second coach the Patriots have hired from outside the organization during their retooling, but the first without a history with Belichick.
New England tabbed Denver special teams coach Scott O'Brien to replace Brad Seely, but O'Brien had been Belichick's special teams coach when he was head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 1991 to 1995.
Coaching assistant Josh Boyer, who was promoted to secondary coach after the departure of Dom Capers, is the other new coach for 2009.
Quarterback Matt Cassel has officially signed his one-year, $14.65 million franchise tender for 2009. The NFL and the Players Association have processed the paperwork on the signed tender, which was given to the Patriots last week . . . Tonight at midnight marks the start of NFL free agency . . . Noted orthopedic surgeon James Andrews, speaking at a medical panel yesterday in Las Vegas, said Tom Brady's doctors were aggressive in finding and treating the infection after his operation and the chances are good for a full recovery.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.