Report Reveals Patriots Were Rejected by First Choice for OC Job

Jun 14, 2023; Thousand Oaks, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams tight ends coach Nick Caley during minicamp
Jun 14, 2023; Thousand Oaks, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams tight ends coach Nick Caley during minicamp / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams tight ends coach and former New England Patriots assistant Nick Caley was long regarded as the odds-on favorite to take over play calling duties in New England. As new reporting has revealed, Caley was in fact the Patriots' first choice to become their new offensive coordinator, but he rebuffed the offer to remain in Southern California.

New England ultimately tabbed former Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt to fill the role left vacant by Bill O'Brien's departure.

"He was offered it at a very competitive salary… It was tough to say no. But Caley had such a good experience last year with the Rams, that the idea of leaving was more difficult than turning down a coordinator job."

Albert Breer of the MMQB

Caley spent eight seasons on Bill Belichick's staff in New England, most notably coaching the tight ends from 2017-22, when Caley joined Sean McVay's staff in Los Angeles.

The Patriots search for an offensive coordinator was exhaustive, especially in comparison to their limited search for the special teams and defensive coordinator positions. Heck, they didn't even interview for the head coach position and had contractually decided on Mayo as the heir apparent even when Belichick was still under contract.

The Atlanta Falcons' decision to hire Raheem Morris may have also been an unfortunate turn of events for the Patriots' offensive coordinator search.

Zac Robinson, a former New England draft pick and then-Rams' passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach, was another highly touted candidate for the Patriot job, but he elected to follow Morris, another Rams assistant, to Atlanta as their offensive coordinator. Prior to Morris' hiring, there were rumors that the Patriots had offered Robinson the job as well and he was considering, but with the news that his friend would be the new Falcons HC, Robinson was taken off of New England's board.

Not only did the Patriots potentially miss out on Robinson when he elected to follow Morris to Atlanta, but with Robinson's departure Sean McVay elevated Caley to the role of passing game coordinator with the Rams. This promotion could have also swayed Caley into remaining with Los Angeles.

Ultimately, Jerod Mayo hired Alex Van Pelt as the first offensive coordinator of his head coaching tenure. Van Pelt, a former NFL quarterback himself, most recently served as the Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator from 2020-23.

He held the title of quarterbacks coach in 2023. Van Pelt was fired following this season, a surprising development after Cleveland earned a playoff berth despite starting five different quarterbacks under center over the course of the season.

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