Matt Patricia has been a quiet but unmistakable presence in Bill Belichick’s inner circle since re-joining the Patriots’ coaching staff to work “in a variety of roles” back in January.
Now, Boston Globe NFL reporter Ben Volin suggests Patricia’s multifaceted involvement in New England’s everyday operations could signal an even bigger transition in the future: taking over the big chair when Belichick steps down.
The Patriots coach has acknowledged Patricia for his role in scouting for the 2021 NFL Draft as part of the Patriots’ revamped, more collaborative approach to the process this season.
On top of that, Volin told WEEI’s The Ken and Curtis Show this weekend that the former Patriots defensive coordinator is now the team’s lead contract negotiator, something he first reported after finding Patricia personally signed Cam Newton to his one-year free agent deal.
“I have been able to get every contract that they have done this offseason — Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Nelson Agholor, etc. [and] Patricia’s signature is on every single one of them,” he said.
The reporter went on to say that Patricia has, in essence, taken on the contractual responsibilities once handled by Nick Caserio, now the general manager of the Houston Texans: “It’s not unusual for other people who are not the GM or the total boss to be putting their signature on the contract…but it is a big deal because they had to choose one person and they chose him.”
So what does that mean?
“It does seem like they are broadening his skill set, and it makes me wonder if they are setting him up to be the heir apparent to Belichick,” Volin said, clarifying that he does predict Patricia would become the head coach and de facto general manager.
With Belichick now 69 years old, Tom Brady gone, and longtime assistant Ernie Adams departing, the clock may in fact be ticking on the all-time-great coach’s future — though he’ll likely get to decide his own departure given his laundry list of accomplishments.
But the idea of Patricia as the possible inheritor of the Patriots would come as a bit of a surprise. After all, many experts have long put offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels forward as the favorite to take over for Belichick, though McDaniels has continued interviewing for head coaching jobs each offseason.
Patricia’s tenure as Detroit’s head coach (13-29-1) doesn’t inspire much confidence — then again, neither does McDaniels’s 11-17 flop with the Denver Broncos back in 2009-10.
But Belichick’s apparent trust in Patricia, both in bringing him back into the fold immediately after his collapse with the Lions and delegating expanded organizational responsibilities, could add a level of intrigue to the sweepstakes to replace the six-time champion coach when he hangs up the headset at last.
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