1. Jerod Mayo
All signs point to Jerod Mayo as the heir apparent in Foxborough.
Mayo manned the linebacker position at an All-Pro level from 2008-2015 for New England before transitioning into coaching. He has been on the Patriots staff since 2019 as an inside linebackers coach and has called defensive plays.
In January, the typically covert Patriots announced that Mayo would receive a contract extension that would keep him with the team "long-term". The announcement raised eyebrows because it was beyond out of character for New England to reveal information like that, and immediately there was speculation that this extension included an agreement that Mayo would be the Patriots' next head coach.
This speculation was only further fueled by reports that he would have a voice in the team's search for an offensive coordinator and offensive line coach last season. Furthermore, Mayo's responsibilities would also be expanded to include being "a sounding board for Belichick during every important aspect of the offseason, including deciding whom to hire on the staff and whom to pursue in free agency.” The added responsibility and power for Mayo could definitely be perceived as him being molded to be the next head coach.
Like Johnson, Mayo was linked to the Carolina Panthers head coaching vacancy last offseason, but turned down an interview after his extension with New England was announced.
Mayo hasn't been shy about publicly professing his desire to be a head coach in the NFL (in New England or otherwise) either. When asked if he still held head coaching aspirations following his extension, Mayo answered“ Absolutely, 100%”.
Coming into this season, there appeared to be a strong likelihood that Mayo would become the next Patriots head coach. However, that assumption didn't factor in how poorly the team would perform this season, and likely didn't account for Belichick to be out the door this soon.
There is a chance that Kraft feels the situation in New England has become so dire that he can't risk a first-time head coach, but the Kraft family also reportedly thinks highly of Mayo and might feel more comfortable keeping it in-house than burning it all down.
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