New England Patriots

Josh McDaniels has spoken publicly for the first time since his controversial decision in February, when he spurned the Indianapolis Colts at the last minute to stay on as offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots.

Speaking with Jim McBride of the Boston Globe at the NFL’s annual meeting in Orlando, McDaniels opened up on his fateful Feb. 6 meeting with Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft. He thought he’d be cleaning out his office and getting ready for his introductory press conference with the Colts, but instead the Patriots’ most powerful pair convinced him to remain with them.

The reasons why he stayed? Obvious.

“The opportunity to stay here and work for who I think is the greatest owner in sports and the best head football coach in the history of our game, to work with the best quarterback that has ever played … Look, I’m privileged to have the opportunity to do that and when they kind of crystallized that — ‘Hey, here’s what we see going forward and here’s how we would like you to fit into it’ — it gave me a reason to stop and say, ‘All right, what’s the best decision for me?’ And certainly it was difficult. But I made the decision on my own, nobody pushed me into it.”

Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick talk during the New England Patriots' Super Bowl LII practice on Feb. 2, 2018 at Winter Park in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick talk during the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl LII practice on Feb. 2, 2018 at Winter Park in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

McBride confirmed a previous report that McDaniels has no guarantees about “future positions” (read: Patriots head coach), but he did have his contract “adjusted”. The question is whether he’s making head coach money at this point; that must have been required to keep him in Foxboro, since there’s apparently no written guarantee that he’ll be Belichick’s successor. But it’s hard to believe that he wouldn’t have some kind of under-the-table promise that he’s next in line, because he probably won’t be in line anywhere else in the league after his decision.

However, he may not be on as bad of terms with Indy as you may think. McDaniels also spoke about Colts GM Chris Ballard, who gave a memorable press conference after the news dropped that McDaniels wasn’t signing with them. McDaniels says he still has a good relationship with Ballard, despite what transpired in February.

“Chris was tremendous the whole entire time. … He’s an incredible human being. He’s great at what he does. He’s going to be successful. It was difficult. I had a friendship with him — I still do. … He’s a guy that I have a lot of respect for and admiration for. He was a big reason why I was interested in that job in the first place. It was as difficult a decision as I’ve ever made professionally. He handled it extremely well, he was a complete professional about it.”

FOXBORO, MA – Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots talks with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels during the first half against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

He also denied that uprooting his family played a role in his decision to stay in New England. Which was kind of absurd to begin with. Extensive travel, and the possibility of moving cities, has long been a reality of working in professional sports. McDaniels and his family knew that already.

As a result of McDaniels’ move, the NFL is also aiming to change the rules regarding offseason coaching hires. The change would allow teams to finalize contracts with new coaches while they’re still in the playoffs with their current teams. Although McDaniels’ situation was not an unprecedented one, the rule change will ultimately become known as the “Josh McDaniels rule.”

Under the potential change, the Colts would’ve been able to lock McDaniels in as their new head coach before the end of the Patriots’ season. And so Belichick and Kraft wouldn’t have been able to make their late push in the first place.

Tom Brady talks with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels prior to the AFC Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

That does beg the question … why did they wait until the very last moment to convince McDaniels to stay? Bill Belichick says the Patriots were simply focused on the playoffs at the time, which is fine. But if they wanted McDaniels that badly at the time, wouldn’t they have gotten something done sooner instead of risking his departure?

The easy answer is that they wanted to do something favorable to Tom Brady after a disappointing, and in some ways strange, Super Bowl loss. Or that they simply wanted to maintain continuity on the coaching staff. But beyond the departure of Matt Patricia to the Detroit Lions, the Patriots have that. They would’ve had good continuity even without McDaniels.

It may never be clear from the Patriots’ side why the team changed course so suddenly. But it is clear that they offered McDaniels enough to convince him that it was worth walking away from a head coaching contract to keep the same role he’s had since 2012. And despite the likelihood that his next job isn’t in writing, you can still rest assured that when Belichick walks away, McDaniels will almost certainly be the one to step right in.

— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.